Winter Takes Toll On State Deer Herd - WBAY

Winter Takes Toll On State Deer Herd

Wildlife biologists say a recent study shows just how much of an impact our record-breaking harsh winter had on the state's deer population.

In the month of April, DNR biologists studied more than 500 adult does killed by cars around the state. During those inspections, the biologists looked for two things: pregnancy rates and the presence of fat around the deer's rump, organs and in their bone marrow.

In both cases, biologists found deer in the central and southern farmland regions weathered winter much better than deer in the northern forest.

"In the farm country the deer came through better, but even there you could tell there was some stress, less than half of the deer still had reserve fat coming out of winter, and up north we're down to 14-percent of the deer that still had some reserve so they were at the end of their rope," says DNR Wildlife Biologist Jeff Pritzl.

As for pregnancy rates, biologists discovered the vast majority of does in the southern two thirds of the state were carrying twins, while up north, all but a few had single fawns.

Pritzl says that evidence supports the recent Natural Resources Board decision to allow buck-only hunting this fall in Northern Wisconsin.

"Yeah that is reflecting that we anticipated what we were going to see in poor fawn production, and fawn survival rates are going to be suppressed this year so that goes along in line with being very conservative on the antlerless harvest in that northern forest zone," says Pritzl.

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