State wildlife officials are temporarily feeding deer to protect orchards in the Pateros area, but say widespread feeding of Okanogan County mule deer is not needed at this time.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) northcentral regional director Jim Brown said most deer are faring well thanks to mild weather and below-average snow cover in the wake of the largest wildfire in state history in July.
The Carlton Complex fire scorched tens of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat, including some traditional mule deer winter range. But a mild, rainy fall has produced some of the best forage for deer in recent years, both inside and outside of the burn area, Brown said.
“Deer often concentrate during the winter near Pateros’ fruit tree orchards – independent of the effects of fire – and cause damage,” Brown said. “Until more deer fence is repaired, we are using feed to draw deer away from the orchards.”