December 12, 2012 | LXXII, No. 37

Coulee Dam resident feeding lots of wild guests

It’s still Thanksgiving time at 432 Columbia in Coulee Dam.

Deer in Carol Netzel’s yard at the edge of Coulee Dam are used to her presence, but are wary of a photographer. — Scott Hunter photo

The resident, Carol Netzel, sets the table twice a day and feeds anywhere from four to 14 visitors.

It’s not an ordinary feast, but appreciated just the same.

Netzel feeds deer.

Early morning and late afternoon, every day, the feast is on. Countless boxes of apples, and store-bought deer food is involved.

Netzel has purchased a number of boxes of apples from Shaw’s Fruit and Produce in Belvedere. “These are apples that they couldn’t sell because they were seconds,” Netzel noted.

She is concerned with the deer having enough food this winter because of the burned out areas around the town. On either side of the river, more than 90,000 acres of habitat burned last summer, and people are noticing more deer in town. Netzel’s home is at the end of the road at the north of Coulee Dam’s west side.

She also drives to Ephrata to purchase deer food quite frequently. She noted that she spends about $75 a week to feed the deer.

“Donations gladly accepted,” she said.

Last Saturday, about 7:30 a.m., they started arriving as a reporter watched from his car. The first deer jumped over a fence near a neighbor’s yard and trotted toward Netzel’s front door. Soon, a couple more jumped the fence and joined the first. A few minutes later two deer ran up from near the river. Right after that, four came running up Columbia from down near the Credit Union.

It wasn’t long before 13 deer appeared. While curious about a strange car parked next to the yard, it didn’t deter the deer.

Meanwhile, Netzel was opening her door and tossing cut up apples into the yard. She did this a couple of times, and the deer only moved a few feet away. They clearly understood where their treats were coming from.

It’s feast time also for the countless California quail that inhabit the area. They come flying in from all directions and nearly cover the yard. They feed for a time and then head off for food someplace else.

It is clear that there is a mutual appreciation element in the twice-a-day routine.

The deer include two bucks, several doe and a handful of rash youngsters.

You can watch the routine by just parking and watching from your car.

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