Wildlife Starting to Show Signs of Stress from Challenging Winter
Detroit Lakes, MN — Winter came early this year and hasn’t let up much since that first major snowfall in November. The snow is getting deeper and temps have found there way into the 30 below zero mark several times already, making life a struggle for area wildlife. While they are built to handle the extremes, too much stress can lead to depredation. Rob Baden, Detroit Lakes Area Wildlife Supervisor for the Minnesota DNR, says deer are starting to show signs of stress.
Not every creature struggles in the snow and cold, however. Baden notes that the Ruffed Grouse are big fans of the snowy winter as they use the snow as a hideout from predators.
Overall deer populations for much of the region are doing quite well, so even a tough winter won’t have a major impact. As to what we can to make life easier for wildlife, Baden says they’ve survived tough winters without our help before and will again. More importantly he just asks people to not make life any more difficult by putting added stress on them.
According to the Minnesota DNR, it’s not uncommon for wintering deer to eat themselves to death despite having reserves of fat. Supplemental feeding can result in enterotaxaemia, a fatal disease commonly called grain overload.
While providing piles of corn, hay or other feed can be a feel-good act, it often results in bad consequences: disease, auto accidents, habitat loss and animal behavior changes.