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ANF: Feeding prohibition remains in place

JOSH COTTON

jcotton@timesobserver.com

Last fall, federal officials implemented a prohibition on feeding wildlife on the Allegheny National Forest in response to a confirmed case of chronic wasting disease in a white-tailed deer found in Pine Grove Township.

That prohibition will remain in place.

The order, a statement from the ANF explains, prohibits “feeding wildlife or laying or placing any food, fruit, hay, grain, chemical, sale or other minerals….”

“We thank everyone for their continued cooperation with the prohibition on feeding wildlife,” Forest Supervisor Jamie Davidson said. “With your help, we can stop or slow the spread of threats like chronic wasting disease that could have a negative impact on wildlife populations, forest ecosystems, our hunting heritage, and our regional economy.”

Before instituting the ban, forest staff contacted “several hundred potentially interested individuals, organizations and agencies” on the proposal.

“Overall,” they say, “comments were supportive of implementing a feeding ban.”

While the decision was made in the wake of the discovery of CWD, federal officials highlight other effects from wildlife feeding including habitat destruction, increased vehicle collisions, habituation to humans, alteration of normal behavior patterns and risks to other wildlife.

“Supplemental feeding of wildlife was once viewed as beneficial during winter months,” Forest Ecologist Collin Shephard explained. “However, studies show that though counterintuitive, supplemental feeding is usually unnecessary, can be harmful to individual animals, and can negatively impact whole populations, especially white-tailed deer.”

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