Don’t feed the deer: Leon Valley hopes to permanently prohibit public from feeding deer

Signs are already posted in public parks asking people not to feed the wildlife

Photo by Divide By Zero on Unsplash (Unsplash)

LEON VALLEY, Texas – The City of Leon Valley is making moves to pass a city ordinance that would prohibit feeding deer in city parks and on city-owned property.

Leon Valley Mayor Chris Riley said the issue was originally discussed seven years ago when Texas Parks & Wildlife Department officials recommended a city-wide ordinance to prohibit deer feeding but no action was taken.

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“This issue was brought up this year when signage was erected in the park saying do not feed the deer,” said Riley.

Leon Valley Public Works Director Melinda Moritz told KSAT that people have been feeding deer in Raymond Rimkus Park for years.

“We’ve had persons whose homes back up to the park feed the deer and then persons that use our park harass the deer that are being fed,” Moritz said. “The deer have fawns in the park and persons using the park get close to the fawns and risk attack because the does are trying to protect their young.”

Riley said people regularly feed deer from their backyards and also noted that people outside of Leon Valley bring things like day-old bread and tortillas to feed the deer in the city parks.

“Corn and tortillas are bad for the deer’s digestive system,” said Riley. “Feeding deer causes them to congregate in an area, which can lead to chronic wasting disease. Texas Parks and Wildlife advises against feeding deer.”

The highly infectious Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), also known as zombie deer disease, is a highly transmissible, fatal neurological disease that can remain infectious on the landscape for several years.

Clinical signs of the disease include progressive weight loss, stumbling or tremors with a lack of coordination, excessive thirst, salivation or urination, loss of appetite, teeth grinding, abnormal head posture and/or drooping ears.

“Feeding deer is bad for humans because there is greater risk of collisions with cars, damage to gardens and fences, Lyme disease, and attraction of other wild animals to the feed,” said Riley.

The ban on feeding deer is on the consent calendar for the city council meeting on April 4, Moritz told KSAT.

If passed, the ban would prohibit feeding deer on city-owned parkland, natural areas, trails or city-owned Huebner Creek and related drainage areas.

It would go into effect at the beginning of May but Moritz said the city plans on issuing warnings prior to taking more severe action.

“We already have some signs in our park that ask persons to not feed deer or any other wildlife. The fine for a city code violation is $250.00,” Moritz told KSAT.