Wisconsin deer enjoying another mild winter

Published: Feb. 26, 2018 at 3:20 PM CST
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The landscape in late February paints a picture of a winter season slipping away, a winter that's once again been friendly to Wisconsin deer. For the third year in a row, Wisconsin wildlife is enjoying a relatively mild winter with less-than-average snow.

"In the far north we're probably on path to see a moderate to slightly moderate winter severity index. It may not get there, might still be in the low category, but in the farmland and most of Wisconsin, it will certainly be in the mild category for winter effects on deer," says Jeff Pritzl, DNR regional wildlife biologist.

Pritzl says deer have avoided their two biggest winter enemies, prolonged frigid weather and deep snow with a frozen base.

"It all comes down to the body weight that the doe is able to maintain through the winter in terms of her health. She comes through that winter with good body weight, better chance of having healthy fawns and then being able to lactate and provide food for the fawn will be higher," says Pritzl.

Pritzl says he's hearing from a number landowners and hunters who say they're seeing more deer right now than ever before.

That should make for interesting County Deer Advisory Council meetings in March and April when the framework for the fall deer hunting seasons are established.

"Where do they want that deer population to be headed? And they'll make a recommendation for this fall," says Pritzl. "And in a lot of the farmland counties, it really hinges on will there be multiple antlerless tags or what other tools they have available to them to try to enhance the deer harvest if that's the direction they want to go."

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