This time of year the Michigan Department of Natural Resources likes to remind people about bears emerging from their dens seeking a quick and easy meal.
That typically means keeping garbage cans or bins stashed away as well as removing bird feeders during the night or altogether until things start to green up. While that is true, the DNR said bears aren’t the only wildlife that are seeking out those quick and easy meals. Deer also will look to munch on birdseed.
During the spring and summer, the DNR said it needs the public’s help to keep deer from browsing on the birdseed in your feeders and on the ground beneath. Food sources like bird feeders congregate deer, raising the risk of deer passing diseases to the other deer gathered there.
Baiting and recreational feeding of deer remains illegal throughout the Lower Peninsula and the Core CWD Area in the Upper Peninsula. The ban is in place to lower the risk of the spread of chronic wasting disease and bovine tuberculosis, according to the DNR. Both diseases are spread through saliva and other bodily fluids that the DNR said can be present at shared feeding sites.
The DNR said taking these steps can help slow the spread of deer disease in Michigan by keeping deer away from your feeders:
• Use feeders that are difficult for deer to access, like tube or hopper feeders or suet cages.
• Use birdseed that is less attractive to deer, like thistle, suet and hummingbird nectar.
• Only put out the amount of seed that birds will eat in a day. Deer tend to visit feeders in the evening and if they find empty feeders, they will move on.
• Hang your feeders high — 6 feet off the ground or higher — to keep deer from accessing seed.
• Hang your feeders close to the house, as deer may be less likely to approach a dwelling.
• Keep the ground under your feeders clean to prevent deer browsing. Use mess-free seed or rake the area regularly.
• Securely install 4-foot or taller woven-wire fencing around all your feeders to prevent deer from reaching over or through to feed.
• Fence your yard with woven-wire fencing that is at least 10 feet tall to prevent deer from entering.