Feeding forest fauna: Ukrainian rangers set up thirty stations to help animals through winter



This forest in Vorotniv, Volyn is a real paradise. The wild ducks bathe in the pond right in the middle of the forest. Forest rangers and children feed the birds, who are already accustomed to the attention of people. Forest rangers put hay in feeders for the larger animals. Visitors give a helping hand.

“We have come here before just to get acquainted with the territory. We’ve been shown ducks and asked to help feed them. We also had forest rangers visit us and tell us how to help nature. We watched them plant the trees. We help the animals, because we know that it’s not the cold that animals are afraid of, but hunger,” says Anton Lytovchenko, a schoolboy.

Most of the wild animals are apprehensive around people — except the fallow deer — who are already used to people. Foresters keep a close eye on the animals.

“We want to wait and see how they make it here. If everything is fine, we will release them into the wild. Right now, we have 15 fallow deer. If they make through this winter, we will try to breed them,” explains the Head of Vorotniv Forestry Serhiy Smichyk.

The deer feel comfortable wandering just a couple of meters from the walking trail. The forest rangers say the deer can mostly be spotted in the morning — while closer to sunset, one could easily stumble across boars or even bison.

“We prepare for the winter in advance. We stock hay, roots, crops, seeds and corn in huge quantities. Severe weather conditions, like snow storms are really tough for animals to survive in. So forestry rangers need to feed them.” says Smichuk.

The forest covers the territory of 4,000 hectares. The rangers have equipped 30 feeding spots throughout the area. The menu is rather varied.

“The animals need additional food. They can’t survive the winter just eating hay and roots. They need nutritious meals,” adds Serhiy Matsyuk, a forest ranger.

It’s hard for animals to find food for themselves in the bitter winter. But the forest rangers reassure that they have enough stock to feed the animals until Spring.

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