It's deer season in New Jersey. But while it's permissible to bait the creatures for the purposes of hunting them, is it legal to feed deer? 

I see it everywhere right now: 'Deer Bait' or 'Free Deer Bait'. I know what that means. It's deer hunting season.

I know you'll think me Pollyanna but I hate deer hunting season. The movie 'Bambi' ruined that for me. It hurts my heart to know that the lives of many of these majestic woodland animals will be snuffed out in the months to come.


And I can hear your responses in my head. 'They're overpopulated, Heather.' 'Deer pose a threat to motorists, Heather.'

I could mount my own arguments against those justifications, like, maybe stop building so many homes, roads, and businesses through their natural habitat. But I'm staying off my soapbox for now and avoiding arguments to just share the facts about baiting and feeding deer in New Jersey.

It IS in fact legal in New Jersey to bait white-tailed deer for the purposes of hunting, according to NJ Fish & Wildlife.

Hands up and thumbs raised
Wavebreakmedia Ltd

And while the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection doesn't state that it's illegal to FEED deer in the Garden State, they certainly prefer you DON'T for half a dozen reasons and call it 'undesirable'. FYI, some I agree with, some I don't.

New Jersey 101.5 FM logo
Get our free mobile app

6 Reasons Not to Feed Deer in New Jersey (according to Department of Environmental Protection at

  1. Feeding increases reproductive potential.
  2. Deer lose their fear of humans.
  3. Feeding enhances the spread of disease and parasites; may compromise the health of non-target species.
  4. Deer feeders are bad neighbors.
  5. Feeding can change behavioral patterns.
  6. Feeding can sicken and kill deer.

Basically, if you feed deer too much they can produce more offspring, they'll get too used to you and not ram you or kick you in the head, could transfer bugs like ticks to you or your pet, make your neighbors mad (though, they should MTOB, if you catch my drift), they might cross different streets trying to get back to your house, and they're digestive system could get thrown out of whack.

All that said, I'm still over here shaking my head. Like, so it's cool to bait them so hunters can KILL the deer, but we shouldn't feed them and disrupt the natural order of things? Oh, so don't kill them SLOWLY? Just take them out quickly?


But deer are soooo cute! I want them to live, I want to make friends with them, but I do have to remember that I'm not a Disney princess and I don't know much about wildlife.

Respect to all those out there reading this. Thanks in advance.


Animals gone wild in NJ: Turkeys, tigers, snakes, bears and more

The best of animal encounters — real and a few rumored — from around New Jersey.

Gallery Credit: Erin Vogt

5 Famous Animals Buried in New York State

Gallery Credit: Will Phillips

More From New Jersey 101.5 FM