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Feeding deer is illegal as of Sept. 1

Published 11:00am Saturday, September 1, 2012

RICHMOND—Effective Saturday, Sept. 1, it will be illegal to feed deer in Virginia.

The annual prohibition runs through the first Saturday in January. This regulation does not restrict the planting of crops such as corn and soybeans, wildlife food plots, and backyard or schoolyard habitats.

The law is intended to curb the artificial feeding of deer that leads to negative consequences. Problems with feeding deer include:

* Unnaturally increasing population numbers that damage natural habitats

* Increasing the likelihood for disease transmission

* Increasing human-deer conflicts such as deer/vehicle collisions and diminishing the wild nature of deer.

In addition, feeding deer has law enforcement implications. Deer hunting over bait is illegal in Virginia. Prior to the deer feeding prohibition, distinguishing between who was feeding deer and who was hunting over bait often caused law enforcement problems for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ conservation police officers.

The Virginia Department of Game Deer Project Coordinators Matt Knox and Nelson Lafon said when the regulation first took effect in 2006 that for more than 20 years the practice of feeding deer had expanded across the eastern United States among both deer hunters and the non-hunting general public.

The most common reason for feeding deer is to improve their nutrition and to supplement the habitat’s ability to support more deer.

According to Knox, many people feed deer because they believe it will keep them from starving, but this is not a legitimate reason to feed deer in Virginia. Deer die-offs due to winter starvation are rare.

“We do not need more deer in Virginia,” Lafon said. “In fact, we need fewer deer in many parts of the state.”

  • Liberty With Responsibility

    I’m just glad the new law still “allows” me to plant corn and soybeans at this time of year, when winter is soon on us! What ignorance, in the law, and repeated in the paper.

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  • Ol Skinny

    Does anyone know where you can lease land to still hunt on?

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  • MyHometown

    Yes there are people that don’t take care of their animals properly. I see dogs on chains, dogs that are wormy and have never seen a vet, skinny dogs, fat dogs, etc. I will not defend those that do not treat their animals humanely but it is unfair to attack hunters just because you don’t agree with their right to hunt with dogs. I know hunters that treat their dogs better that some threat their own children. I also know some that shouldn’t be allowed to take care of either. Don’t get all worked up over a skinny dog. There are some that are just so high strung that, regardless of feed quality and quantity, they can not maintain a “healthy” weight. I also see fat dogs that run all the time.

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  • RACN35

    i read the article twice … no mention of dogs- are you getting your panties wadded up because of comments and not the article… i had dogs in dinwiddie – 12 of them and they were fat and healthy – they HUNTED DEER, not because they were hungry … like a Lab retrieves ducks,ever seen a skinny lab or a setter pointing at quail – Hail No You Have NOT…but since I moved here – 80% of the “deer” dogs I have seen are poorly taken care of and “run” deer.. not to “hunt” but because the are starving 1/2 to death… next time some jackass comes up in MY back yard TRESPASSING looking for his dog … prepare to get YOUR ass kicked Mr Mighty Hunter…jus sayen

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    • MyHometown

      SO you know about raising dogs to hunt but you don’t want to allow a dog owner to retrieve their dog from your property? Follow through on your butt kicking threat and you will be the one involved in a legal battle. Unless you have fences AND no trespassing signs you can’t “legally” keep anyone off your property for any reason.

      Aren’t we getting all riled up rather early this year? The article was intended for informative purposes for those that may have forgotten that it is illegal to continue to feed deer and thus gain unfair advantage when the hunting season comes in. It refers to the “Baiting” laws. If we are going to bait deer we should just raise them like cattle and harvest them when they reach market weight.

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  • beachgirl

    We have hunting dogs that wonder up to our yard in the City and they have a either a dyed or burnt brand on them and that is just plain cruel. This year when they show up I will be calling PETA and they will trace the brand back to the owner.

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  • beachgirl

    idk I am sure you are one of the few that does that, and I truly ccommend you for it. But I feel sorry for the dogs that do not have what you offer for yours. I have seen some pens that are filthy and disgusting and that is so sad.

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  • idk

    kkslider If someone starves their dogs because they thank it will make them hunt better, they need to be starved and beat them selves. Maybe not all house dogs are useless my mine are but I love them (retired hunting dogs), but beachgirl my dog pens are cleaned and checked six days a week, with all shots current and in excellent health. Sandman I dont know anyone who brands dogs that is dye you are seeing.

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    • SandMan

      idk is a good user name for you, because you certainly dk!Invest in a spelling book. 2nd grade should do!

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  • kkslider

    I have to disagree that the dogs eat three-times better during hunting season. Isn’t starving them the point of using them during hunting? It makes them so hungry that they run after food/animals leading the hunters the their prey? Please forgive me if I am incorrect in the nature of the “sport.” I was raised to believe the killing of a helpless animal is not only inhumane but definitely not a bonding experience with my fellow heathens.
    Alas, I beleive you should be allowed to feed the deer on your own land. If it is punishable by arrest, I see many folks in my neighborhood being booked.

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  • beachgirl

    Nobody is gonna tell me that I can’t feed those precious deer and I will keep on doing it…Useless house dog?? idk at least a house dog does not live in a cage of poop.

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  • idk

    Those starved dogs eat three time as much as your typical useless house dog, during hunting season. But, other than your anti-dog hunting comment I agree with you. If you want to feed the deer on your own land you should be able too.

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    • SandMan

      Maybe you have a “useless” house dog, but I don’t!
      I guess you call a brand burned into their hide & ribs sticking out “well fed”.
      I disagree, it’s nothing short of animal cruelty. My opinion….your opinion.

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  • SandMan

    “We do not need more deer in Virginia,” Lafon said. “In fact, we need fewer deer in many parts of the state.”

    Oh, really? Who died and made you the Creator?

    So, let me get this straight….you can run a deer down using half starved, branded hounds, run him/her by your P/U, fully equipped with a “high dollar” tracking antenna, and shoot the deer, all in the name of “sport”, but you are breaking the law by feeding them?
    Yeah, right! Totally unenforceable

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