The recent snow and cold have prompted some people to wonder if deer can cope. Steve Merchant, DNR forest wildlife program leader, says not to worry.
"Deer are well adapted to survive our winters," Merchant said. "The animals build up fat reserves in the fall, modify their behavior to conserve energy and have hollow guard hairs that make their fur a warm insulating layer of protection against wind and cold. Last year was such a mild winter that our deer are going into this winter in excellent shape."
It's too early to tell how the winter will affect deer numbers. The heaviest snowfall has been in agricultural areas where deer can access high-protein foods such as corn and acorns. Northern Minnesota has had less snow.
The DNR recently met with the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association to discuss the association's role if emergency deer feeding is needed. Feeding would not begin until after Feb. 15 even if the winter is severe. Emergency feeding would target critical wintering areas where deer populations are low.
The DNR will assess the severity of the winter in early January.
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