5.8 C
Fort St. John
Thursday, October 17, 2019
9924 101 ave Fort St. John, B.C.
Advertisement
Home News Province asking residents to not start winter feeding program of Ungulates

Province asking residents to not start winter feeding program of Ungulates

VICTORIA, B.C. – Members of the public are being asked to carefully consider the risks of starting a winter feeding program for wild ungulates. Ungulates are hoofed mammals and include elk, moose, deer and sheep.

Decades of scientific research have shown that winter feeding programs can have serious negative consequences for ungulates. Ungulates, as ruminants, have food requirements that vary seasonally. It takes weeks for the bacteria in their digestive tract to adapt to changes in diet. A sudden shift from natural winter forage to supplemental feed can result in sickness or death.

Other risks of supplemental winter feeding include increased conflicts with communities, damage to important winter habitat, and higher risk of parasite and disease transmission. In addition, high densities of ungulates at feeding sites attract predators, which can increase ungulate mortality and human-predator conflicts.

Wildlife managers must carefully weigh the pros and cons before implementing a wild ungulate feeding program. Clear criteria must be met prior to feeding (e.g., critical snow depths, poor ungulate body condition) and programs should address specific management objectives, such as drawing animals away from agricultural areas and roadways. Any benefits of these programs are typically small-scale and have little impact on overall wildlife populations.

Protecting and enhancing natural habitats and avoiding disturbance during winter are better ways to ensure the long-term sustainability of ungulate populations. Animals that enter the winter in good condition, due to abundant summer and autumn forage, are more likely to survive a severe winter.

Even in well-functioning ecosystems, some animals die during winter. This is natural and keeps ungulate populations in balance with their available habitat.

get the latest news in your inbox

Author

Local Events

Must Read

Huskies Player of the Week: Sam Smith

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – This week’s Huskies Player of the Week is #30 Goalie Sam Smith. Each week, a different player from the Huskies...