Harsh Winter Tough on Deer Herd

Cold temperatures and deep snow are beginning to have an impact on northern Minnesota’s deer herd, according to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources observations.

Minnesota Public Radio has the story HERE.

Based on the DNR’s Winter Severity Index which rates winter harshness by adding the number of below-zero days and days where snow-depth tops 15-inches, conditions faced by deer are becoming a challenge. With snow depths at or above 30-inches across the Quetico-Superior region, WSI numbers are running more than double those of last year.

In winter 2009-2010, for example, WSI readings on the Gunflint Trail were 29; this winter, the WSI there is 89.

DNR officials are observing deer retreating to conifer forests where snow is typically less deep and temperatures can be moderated by the canopy. While the deep snow conditions are generally favorable to wolves which are more mobile in the conditions, mange has been widely reported among Quetico-Superior area wolves this winter, stressing that species.

The ultimate impact of the winter on deer will rest on how long the deep snow and colder temperature persist this year. Officials note that this year’s winter is unlikely to be as severe as that of 1995-96 when WSI figures topped 200 in places.

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