The Billings Outpost

Feeding deer in yard may violate state law

Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Every winter a few well-meaning Montanans put food in their yards supposedly to help wildlife through the cold and snow or because they like to watch the animals. In many instances, they may be violating state law.

Under Montana law, a person may not provide supplemental feed that attracts ungulates, bears or mountain lions. Nor may Montanans provide wildlife with feed that unnaturally concentrates game animals and could contribute to disease transmission or a threat to public safety.

Ungulates are animals that have a two-part hoof. In Montana wild ungulates include antelope, deer, elk, moose, bison, bighorn sheep and mountain goats.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks game warden Kevin Holland said unnatural concentrations of wildlife, attracted to supplemental feed, inadvertently can contribute to the spread of disease or attract mountain lions and other predators to neighborhoods.

Though recreational feeding of birds is allowed under Montana law, game wardens may ask people to stop feeding birds if their birdfeeders attract ungulates or bears, Holland said. If a problem persists, the owner of a birdfeeder may be charged with a violation.

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