Feeding wild animals to Ruidoso can put domestic animals at risk and cause property damage, a resident told village councilors at their meeting last week.

While speaking at the public forum portion of the council meeting, she asked for help to dissuade the public from the practice, an action that carries the weight of the law. Advisers are not allowed to respond to speakers. They only hear what they have to say.

Brigitte Bartell said that she lived on a small street with about six houses in a house that she had built about 15 years ago.

"The problem is feeding wildlife and fallow deer," she said. "I lost a certified therapy dog ​​and another who had caught three pests this summer, another dog earlier this year. I went to the neighbors several times to ask them to stop feeding the mule deer.

New people arrive and despite her requests, they feed the wildlife, she said. A neighbor even set up an automatic feeder for the deer, she said.

"The deer have lost all their fear," said Bartell. "It's a very big problem and I think we have to do something about it."

Her yard is not fenced, but she walks her dogs on a leash. Despite this precaution, a male attacked one of his animals, she said.

Village councilors have considered bans on eating and other actions in the past, but public opposition was important. Nothing in the General Rules of the New Mexico Game and Fishing Department states that it is illegal to feed wild animals, but a person may be held liable if the deer then causes a nuisance. Deer can not be fed for hunting either.

Although the creation of a feeding station and watering trough may seem like a good idea, there is a legal risk if a person attracts animals and they cause damage to the neighbor's property. The mule deer may become dependent on a human source of food and be injured or killed in traffic jams.

More: Feeding wild animals can be fatal for "wild"

Game and Fish officials told the council about the problem in 2017, saying that attracted animals could cause a host of problems, including damage to vegetation, fencing and irrigation systems, as well as accidents. of the road and injuries. Large herds also attract predators that may be dangerous for domestic animals and humans. Encouraging large flocks can contribute to the spread of the disease among deer.

The problem is compounded by the fact that people have different values ​​for deer and their presence in urban areas. For example, while a person only sees the mule deer as a parasite harmful to ornamental plants or shrubs, his neighbor could feed the deer, which attracts these "nuisance" animals to the neighborhood, they said. .

The best way to prevent deer from browsing the premises is to fence them, game and fish managers give their opinion on the agency's website. Several fence designs have proven effective and humane. In places where the fence is not practical, wrap individual plants and shrubs with sections of woven wire square mesh prevents foraging on individual plants.

The mule deer is considered a browser, preferring the leaves, stems and buds of woody plants. Forbes (weeds and other herbaceous plants) are also an important part of their diet. Like most wildlife species, mule deer are opportunistic. If they have the opportunity, they will feed on agricultural products such as corn, soybeans, small grains, alfalfa, fruit trees and vegetables. As a result, deer can cause economic hardship to those who earn their living in the agricultural industries.

To learn more about Living with Wildlife and the mule deer in particular, visit the Fish and Game website at http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/download/publications/wildlife/Living- with-Wildlife-Mule-Deer-in Urban-Neighborhoods.pdf