For the first time in several years, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has approved emergency spending to feed white tail deer.
The department is releasing $170,000 so that the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association can distribute emergency feed to white tail deer in northeast Minnesota.
DNR officials use a winter severity index that is based on temperatures and snow depth to decide if deer feeding is warranted and parts of the Arrowhead region qualify this winter.
As a result, deer feeding will be allowed despite agency misgivings, DNR Wildlife Section Chief Paul Telander said.
"The Minnesota DNR does not support deer feeding," he said. "The science shows that it doesn't reach a population level on deer, it doesn't have a population impact. It also increases the risk of disease transmission."
State legislators established a hunting license surcharge 15 years ago to fund winter deer feeding and deer health. The fund has a balance of $770,000.
Telander said feeding deer encourages large herds to gather.
"When deer get in that close contact in a feed pile or something similar that they're in nose to nose contact, disease is more easily spread," he said.