Risks of feeding wildlife in the winter

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(ABC 6 News) – A new warning from the Iowa and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, urging people not to feed wildlife during the winter.

According to Minnesota’s DNR, pheasant numbers are increasing across the state. But something that could hurt the growing population is new reports of corn being left along the road. Which the department says appears to be an attempt to help feed ringtail pheasants.

Iowa DNR biologist Todd Bogenschutz says those good intentions could have unintended consequences.

“Anytime you concentrate birds like that, if there’s disease concerns or anything, that just creates the opportunity to spread it more,” Bogenschutz said.

Other risks include an increased chance that those birds could be hit by a car while gathering food on the side of the road. In addition to pulling them away from their nests, exposing them to frigid temperatures and predators.

“You know I kind of smile when we get bad weather conditions like this because hunting season is basically over and I get calls like, look at all the birds we can see,” Beognschutz said. “and I’m like no! That’s not good if you can see them. We don’t want to be able to see them.”

Beognschutz recommends instead of feeding the birds, a better option is providing cover for them.

Both Minnesota and Iowa have conservation reserve programs that pay farmers to plant tall grass, brush, or trees to help create more nesting cover for local wildlife.

For more information on how you can get involved in a CRP program, you can visit the following links:

Minnesota applicants click here

Iowa applicants click here