SALT LAKE CITY — Images of starving fawns or ducklings may tempt people to offer food or water to hungry animals this summer, but the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) says doing so is unsafe for both animals and people.
“The best way you can help wildlife is by letting animals stay wild,” says DWR Section Chief Justin Shannon. “Don’t approach them, and don’t try to feed them. These animals have evolved to be able to survive numerous weather conditions and to make it on their own. Often people’s good intentions wind up doing more harm than good for the wildlife.”
But Utah's ongoing drought means more animals--particularly deer--entering neighborhoods for food, so there are a few things that are important to know, says the DWR.
To minimize damage to gardens and yards, building an 8-foot fence is the most effective method, though motion-activated sprinklers can also deter deer.
Planting foul-tasting vegetation around the perimeter of gardens will also help keep deer away, as they may not bother trying other plants in the area.
Ideas on how to create deer-friendly landscaping can be found on DWR's website.
Animals that look sickly, are injured, or are acting aggressively should be reported to the nearest DWR office, but bears seen within the foothills or canyons should only be reported if they are being aggressive or if they are getting into trash, fruit trees, or causing damage.
Never try to approach wildlife under these circumstances, says DWR, as Shannon warns that "t can be really dangerous when deer, moose or bears become habituated and lose their fear of people.”
DWR is taking proactive steps to protect wildlife in the current extreme drought conditions by issuing fewer general-season deer permits, temporarily closing wildlife management areas to campfires and target shooting, and allowing anglers to harvest more fish in drought-impacted bodies of water.
Go here for a full list of these measures.