Upper Peninsula Supplemental Feeding Program

Permits allowing private citizens and sportsmen's groups in the Upper Peninsula to provide supplemental feed for deer during the winter months are issued by local wildlife biologists under certain provisions.

Since the arrival of heavy snowfall across Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the Department of Natural Resources has been monitoring accumulated snow depths for potential impacts to wildlife and assessing the possibility of allowing early supplemental feeding of deer.

With the current forecast indicating snow will continue to accumulate at accelerated rates in the coming month, DNR officials have determined that supplemental feeding by permit will be allowed across the entire Upper Peninsula starting Monday, Dec. 15, 2014.

Supplemental feeding of deer is usually allowed on private land in the northern U.P. counties along Lake Superior beginning in early January and in the southern counties if accumulated snowfall meets established minimum depths by mid-January. However, with snow accumulating so quickly across the entire peninsula, the DNR's Director Keith Creagh will issue an emergency order allowing feeding to begin at an earlier date for the 2014-2015 season.

"We understand that citizens want to help deer during difficult times, however, it is important to receive a permit and follow the feeding guidelines, said Russ Mason, Wildlife Division Chief. "The potential of disease spread and the creation of predator sinks are of special concern. Landowners who apply for permits will receive detailed information and instruction from DNR staff on the feeding regulations and guidelines."

Easily digestible food sources most beneficial for feeding deer include grains, second-cut alfalfa, clover, and pelletized deer food. Although deer make use of apples, potatoes, sugar beets, carrots, and many other foods during summer and fall, these provide little benefit for deer during winter conditions and are not legal for supplemental feeding under permits.

The recreational feeding of wildlife is also allowed on private land in the Upper Peninsula year-round, provided the feed is placed within 100 yards of a residence and the total amount of feed does not exceed two gallons at any time. The feed must be scattered on the ground and must be at least 100 yards from areas accessible by livestock.

How do I get a supplemental feeding permit?

  • Supplemental feeding permits are available from local wildlife biologists at the following Upper Peninsula DNR Operations Service Centers or Field Offices: Baraga, Marquette, Crystal Falls, Escanaba, Newberry, Sault Ste. Marie and Cusino (Shingleton).

What regulations apply to supplemental feeding of deer in the Upper Peninsula?

  • Supplemental feeding permits are subject to the following regulations:

    Prior to placing any supplemental feed, permission must be obtained from the land owner, and a permit must be issued by a DNR wildlife biologist.

    Feed must be placed at least one-quarter mile or more from the nearest paved public highway (this includes any paved, asphalt, or concrete roadway), at least one mile from domestic farm animals, and at least one mile from wheat or potato fields, commercial fruit orchards or commercial plant nurseries or tree farms, unless otherwise specified in the permit.

    Feed used for supplemental feeding of deer can consist only of grains, second cut alfalfa and clover, and pelletized food materials containing no animal protein. The feed must be scattered on the ground at a depth not to exceed three inches.

    Anyone issued a supplemental feeding permit must agree to assist the DNR in collecting deer tissue samples for disease surveillance and must report to the DNR by May 30 the quantity and type of feed used, dates and duration of feeding, and other required information specified in the permit.

    Anyone who fails to comply with the supplemental feeding provisions will be ineligible for any future supplemental feeding permits.

Please Note: In the event chronic wasting disease (CWD) is documented within Michigan, within 10 miles of Michigan's border with another state or Canadian province, or as determined by the DNR Director, the Director shall issue an interim order banning the use of bait and banning the feeding of deer and elk, at a minimum, within the relevant CWD management zone.

For more information about the regulations regarding supplemental feeding, see Chapter III of the Wildlife Conservation Order, section 3.100a.