“If you feed mule deer hay, they can starve with a full belly. They simply cannot digest the food fast enough to meet their needs, whereas elk, bison and cattle can do fine.” So mule deer need high-energy forage and that costs money. More important, says Torbit, is the need to educate the public about the importance of winter ranges. “It’s much cheaper to conserve winter range and educate the public than to feed big game. Most agencies do not believe that you can save enough animals to justify the cost.