Recent Snow Making It Tough On Northwoods Deer

Apr 5, 2018

Credit pixabay.com Bones64

The recent snow has begun to put another level of stress on the Northwoods deer herd.

DNR wildlife biologist Jeremy Holtz in Rhinelander says the most recent state index ending in March put much of Northwoods below the level that impacts deer.

But the heavy snows and the deeper cold at night have likely pushed that index toward the moderate level...

"...especially in terms of late-winter snowfall. It took us over the 18" mark in the woods and it's going to be pretty tough on the deer until the snow we just received begins to reduce again...."

Snow depths over 18 inches and temperatures below zero factor into the index. Holtz says deer will be looking for food in any place...

"...they have a winter metabolism and a summer metabolism. In the winter, their body kicks down and lets them eat less food and process it very effectively, so they can stay healthy with only a little bit of food. In late March, they start ramping up into their more normal seasonal metabolism. That means they will need more food to stay alive...."

That means they could be eating bark, especially trees with sap or growing buds. He says during the growing season deer need about 8 pounds of green forage in a day. He says in the mildest of winters about 10 percent of deer will die... 

"....when we get into a moderate winter we bump that up maybe 10-15 percent. and if we get moderate to moderately severe that's were we could see up to 20 percent of the deer population succumbing to winter...."

He says the severity index has moved to very severe in Iron county and in neighboring Price county the index is getting into the very severe range.