Supplemental Feeding Can Be As Easy As Cutting Firewood

Posted by admin On January - 14 - 2011

It’s not hard to believe that another winter is firmly upon us here in the Northeast. What is hard to believe is that it seems that we’re the target of as much snowfall as Mother Nature can throw at us.

With the accumulation increasing, food sources for many of our game animals are quickly being covered and frozen and inaccessible.

Deer levels in many of the Northeast states are down and it’s easy to understand why people are trying to be good intentioned when they put out food to supplement the feeding of deer, rabbit and even moose.

Conservation officials are not keen on supplemental feeding and the reason is simple: It can actually do more harm than good.

But one thing that many of us do already could actually be beneficial for our deer, rabbit and moose populations. We in the northern climates that don’t live in the middle of population centers often rely on wood as a main source of heat. By simply cutting down trees for firewood, we can actually help feed many of the animals in the woods that are having difficulty finding food in the deep snow. This not only helps keep them fed, but also helps keep our herd numbers up and, in turn, helps our hunting seasons.

This time of year, deer and other forest animals tend to diet mostly on woody browse such as twigs and sprouts. When we cut firewood, we tend to leave behind tops of trees and smaller branches. These are absolute caches of food that deer, moose, rabbit and other animals seek out in the lean winter months.

Doing nothing with the tops and branches is really the best way to leave them for the animals. They will find them and eat the edible portions. Once they are through, simply take the tops and pile them for brush that turn into great shelter for birds and rabbits and other small animals.

Some experts suggest leaving mast-producing trees such as oak and beech while thinning out less beneficial species like maple and ash, which are known to burn just as well. And you can actually help improve the health of the trees you leave behind by thinning around them to allow them better access to sunlight and less competition for nutrients. If you have apple trees around, this is especially good for them.

So, instead of putting out feed that can be harmful to wildlife (check out Maine Fish and Game’s informational web pages about it here), do what you need to do and cut some firewood. The end result is a great feast for the deer in your area and improved hunting and wildlife for you to enjoy in the long run.

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