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Long Winter Increasing Deer Mortality In Northwoods


The late season snow is having an impact and a DNR biologist in Rhinelander says it's impacting the deer.

Jeremy Holtz says the snow has led to some deer not making it....

"....In March, when deer start to move from their winter metabolism to their summer metabolism, that is when they are in the greatest danger of facing starvation. We're starting to see that, even though things are opening up a little bit. We're getting calls of deer that are too weak to move, too weak to walk, then they are found dead the next morning. Of course, folks are concerned that it's some kind of illness, Chronic Wasting Disease or something...."

While one deer with Chronic Wasting Disease was found in the town of Crescent recently, Holtz says they've been finding dead deer on roads and driveways. He says a check the deceased deer's bone marrow finds the death's are not illness...

"...what we are finding is some of the deer being hit by cars are in pretty good shape. Deer moving across roads, jumping around, they're still doing pretty well. There is some fat content around the organs. The deer that are having difficulty moving around in yards or open fields, they tend to be in full starvation where their body is consuming it's own marrow. There's nothing left to keep it alive...."

He says the majority of deer that have died of starvation are last year's fawns. He says the fawns simply aren't as adapted as older deer. But the deer able to move around have been able to hold on. Holtz says the snow depths in the woods are below 18 inches but there is thicker snow and some crust which is tough to move around in for the deer.

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