RHINELANDER - Winter makes it tough to get around. Deer feel the cold and snow of winter every moment of every day.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources calculates what that means. They call it the Winter Severity Index. It measures the amount of stress that a deer faces during the winter months.
For each day there's 18 inches or more of snow on the ground, a point gets added. If the temperature gets below zero, another point gets added.
Data at the end of January showed a mild winter so far. But the recent snowfall and cold will change that.
"We were trending to be a mild winter before the snow, now it'll be interesting to see where we end up," said DNR Deer Biologist Curt Rollman. "We're not trending super high at the moment, but it all depends on how long the snow depth stays around."
When people hear about the winter severity index being high, they may be inclined to assist the deer. However, they cannot feed the deer in many counties in the Northwoods because of Chronic Wasting Disease fears. But Rollman said there are simple things that people can do to help them out year round.
"So if you can go out and do habitat management on your property, whether that's timber harvest to get more vegetation for them or something to that extent, that is the most important time for a deer," said Rollman. "That will help them get through those winters."
The Winter severity index is updated every month. February's information will be available in March.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources posts index to their website. Just enter Winter Severity Index in their search bar.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources