Adults fared better in harsh winter
2:38 pm
Sun July 6, 2014

Young Deer Have Highest Winter Mortality

Credit Emery Way, commons.wikimedia.org

Deer in southern Wisconsin fared better after our recent harsh winter than deer in the Northwoods...especially young deer. That assessment from car-deer killed studies and radio-collar studies done by the DNR.

DNR research ecologist Dan Storm says they were able to look at fat reserves on deer killed by vehicles, a low-cost way to do a study. He says winter  impacts younger deer more harshly than older deer. He says they had a radio-collar study in Sawyer county that showed 40 percent of the juvenile deer died because of the harsh conditions between January and June. He says the young deer aren't quite as adapted yet...

"....it's a lot more difficult on the young deer. They're smaller, they haven't built up the fat reserves, they're still growing. Winter is a lot more difficult on them...."

About 10 percent of adult deer died from the conditions. He says the second harsh winter in a row could eventually affect the number of new fawns...

"....because they were in rougher shape, the young ones especially might have lower pregnancy rates. We expect all the adult deer to have pregnancy rates over 90 percent..."

Storm says 90 percent  of  the ever-adaptive White-tail deer survived one of the worst winters in history and expects their numbers to remain good.

With less harsh conditions, deer in southern Wisconsin survived the winter at higher rates.