Effective September 1st, it will be illegal to feed deer statewide in Virginia. The annual prohibition runs through the first Saturday in January in most of the state, but longer in some areas, as noted below.
- All feed must be removed from any deer feeding site prior to September 1st.
- Any area where deer feed has been distributed is considered a “baited” area and cannot be hunted over for 10 days following the complete removal of the food.
- It is illegal to feed deer or elk in any county, city, or town during any deer or elk hunting season. Urban archery season runs through March and deer seasons run through April in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties.
- It is illegal to feed deer year-round in Buchanan, Clarke, Dickenson, Frederick, Shenandoah, Warren, and Wise counties (including the cities and towns within).
- These restrictions do not apply to agricultural plantings (including wildlife food plots) or food distributed to livestock.
Problems with Feeding Deer
Feeding deer can unnaturally increase deer populations and damage natural habitats, increase the likelihood for disease transmission, increase human-deer conflicts such as deer/vehicle collisions, and diminish the wild nature of deer. Fed deer are often emboldened to seek human foods, leading them into conflict with people. Feeding deer leads to the prolonged crowding of animals in a small area, resulting in more direct animal to animal contact, contamination of feeding sites, and greater risk of disease transmission.
Deer hunting over bait is illegal in Virginia. Prior to the deer feeding prohibition, distinguishing between who was feeding deer and who was hunting over bait often caused law enforcement problems for the Department’s conservation police officers.
Report Wildlife Violations
It is clear that the negative consequences of feeding deer outweigh the benefits. If anyone sees or suspects someone of illegally feeding deer during this time period, or observes any wildlife violations, please report it to DGIF’s Wildlife Crime Line at 1-800-237-5712.