State and tribal game wardens and wildlife managers would like to remind residents that the supplemental feeding of game animals is illegal on private and state land on the Flathead Reservation, as well as off the reservation.
The law specifically prohibits the feeding of deer, elk, moose, mountain lions and bears. The recreational feeding of birds can also be unlawful if it attracts ungulates or bears. Supplemental food includes grain, processed feed, hay, and other foods.
FWP Game Warden Ron Howell noted that residents sometimes claim to be feeding turkeys, but this feeding can also attract other species. For example, if deer are drawn to feeding sites, they can attract mountain lions and pose a safety threat to neighbors. Howell added that several examples of unlawful feeding of wildlife have been turned in recently in the Polson area.
A recent incident in the Polson area reflected the need to remind residents, Howell said. Hay and salt blocks were delivered to ta residence just for deer to eat. The landowner does not own livestock. Nearly 30 turkeys and countless deer were feeding on the pile at one point, Howell said.
Another incident has been recently reported to Howell in the Ronan area.
“Lots of turkeys are being fed, which is attracting deer, and concerned neighbors are reporting seeing mountain lions in the area,” Howell said.
“I try to educate folks on the law, and give them a chance to clean up the attractants and stop the feeding by issuing a written warning first. If the feeding does not stop then I will issue a citation.”
Officials with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes note the tribes have collaborated on information for the public and provided countless hours of education to farmers and ranchers, schools and the community about ways to reduce conflict with wildlife. Feeding wildlife is counter to all tribal efforts to reduce wildlife losses and minimize potential human wildlife conflicts, CSKT officials say.