Snow Cover Creates Added Stress on Deer PopulationSubmitted: 04/18/2013
Story By Melissa Constanzer

WISCONSIN - Deer hunters care a lot about late fall weather, but there's also reason to care about spring weather. It's harder for deer to find food with snow on the ground. That puts deer under added stress. The DNR wants to know just how stressed they are. That's why they measure the severity of the winter with an index. Temperatures and snow cover add points to the total.

"When you get to the end of the winter, if you have a score of less than 50, it's considered mild. If it's more than 80 it's considered severe or 100 is very severe. At the present time in Rhinelander, it's only 44 which would say it's a mild winter," says Keith McCaffery, DNR Retired Deer Biologist.

But this spring is one for the record books. The DNR has been keeping records since 1960. Only one other year has had this much snow cover this late. In the southern part of the state, that's led to deer deaths.

"That high density of deer is likely to cause some stress. There is that indication that we have very severe browsing going on in some of the wood lots, in the area where these moralities are taking place. Aspen branches are chewed off to the diameter of a person's thumb," says Keith McCaffery.

Here in the Northwoods, the deer are still doing well despite the snow cover. This means there are not concerns for the upcoming hunting season yet. Still the DNR reminds people not to feed or bait deer.

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