Woman feeds deer on her property; Wildlife officials say ‘This is definitely not OK'

Video shared on social media showing nearly a dozen deer belly up to a buffet of barnyard feed is a big talker on Twitter.

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No one could be more surprised than Merry Kogut.

"I couldn't believe it because I have posted deer pictures and videos before and I would get four likes or something," she said.

As of Thursday afternoon, the tweet had more than 1,500 replies, 16,000 likes and 3,000 retweets.

Kogut lives on Herron Island in Pierce County, Washington.

It's a small, private community. You can only get to the island by ferry. Once you're there, you can see deer everywhere.

"It's just a real characteristic of this island. It's a wonderful place to live and the deer are a big part of that," said Kogut.

Kogut feeds the deer daily.

Thanks to social media, she's no longer just attracting deer. Her viral video caught the attention of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"It's not a natural way for deer to behave, especially blacktail deer, they're usually more dispersed on the landscape and forage as they go instead of being concentrated," said Anis Aoude, WDFW Game Division manager.

Wildlife officials said it may seem harmless, but feeding wildlife can have negative effects.

It can spread disease, draw in predators and teach animals to rely on humans for survival.

"That's another issue as well. Deer that are habituated have more of a potential to harm a person because they perceive them as equals and they kind of lose their fear of people," said Aoude.

In some states, feeding wildlife is illegal, but Kogut said on Herron Island, feeding deer is nothing new.

"I also tweeted back to Fish and Wildlife and invited them to contact me," she said. "I think that if they knew the details about this island and that it's really been a deer sanctuary for 61 years, they might want to temper their comments."

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