HUNTSVILLE, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - Emergency deer feeding in underway in several northern Utah counties including Cache, Ogden, Summit and Rich counties. Our harsh winter brought the animals out of the mountains and now several agencies and community Members are working together to help.
Ranchers and neighbors in Hunstville say the herd is hefty this year after snow depths continued to rise in the mountains.
"We had upwards of two dozen deer just laying around here in they hay. It became their haystack, so it's been nice to have the feed for them," farmer Kent said.
The abundance of storms made it difficult for deer populations to even forage food from the hillsides. Since munching mule deer can eat into any rancher's budget, the division of wildlife and Mule Deer Foundation team up and provide private citizens with pellets to supplement the deer diets. This year, field organizers had a feeling the weather pattern would cause some issues.
"As time goes on,the temps below a certain degree for so long--that's a trigger. They test fat content on road kill and when that diminishes to a certain point, those are all triggers that say these deer are in trouble and they need are help," Mike Laughter of the Mule Deer Foundation said.
The animals can see sickness take over or an abundance of death the longer they can't access their food source.
"If we can make a difference let's do. It's so important for our heritage and the history of the state that we have mule deer--they are the icon of the west. Here they are standing on a hillside starving to death. As sportsman, could you look yourself in the mirror if you knew you could do something and didn't?" Mike Laughter of the Mule Deer Foundation said.
As temperatures warm up and snow depth decreases, food will be easier to find and the animals will head back the mountain. This week alone, half of herd has abandoned one of the Ogden Valley feeding sites. The deer won't depend on the food, but will return to feeding sites if snow depths rise again.
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