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PAGE11MAZINAIGANSPRINGSUMMER2014WILDLIFEOdanahWis.Thereisnodoubtaboutitthatthiswinterhasbeenlongandcold.Eventhosehardyindividualswhoenjoyoutdoorwinteractivitieswerereadytoseespringcomethisyear.Myguessisthatourungulatedenizensthosedeerandelkofthenorthwoodswerealsoeagertoseegreengrassandyoungleavesafterthedeepandlastingsnowcoverchallengedtheirsurvivalthroughoutthecededterritories.ThisincludesthecededterritoryinMinnesotaandstretchestotheeasternUpperPeninsula.Everyonewondershowlargeatollwintertookonthesevaluableherds.ThemethodsusedtomeasurewinterseverityvaryasonemovesfromMinnesotatoWisconsinandthentoMichiganbuttheyalluseacombinationofsnowdepthandminimumtemperatures.InWisconsinthenumberofdaysthesnowisdeeperthan18inchesandthenumberofdaysthattheminimumtemperatureisbelowzeroaretallied.IfthesumofthesetwomeasuresfromDecember1throughApril30isabove100thewinterisclassifiedassevere.Ifabove120itiscalledverysevere.ThisyearaverageWinterSeverityIndexWSIvaluewas135amongthehighesteverrecorded.WhenWSIvaluesreachtheveryseverelevelweexpecttolosedeerandotherwildlifetooverwintermortality.Generallythefawnsaremostsusceptiblefollowedbyadultbuckswholosetheirfatduringtherutandthenadultdoes.Overwinterstressalsocaninfluencethenumberoffawnsproducedthefollowingspringandtheirsurvivability.Wintercanbehardondeerthisfarnorth.Deerandelkthatliveinthenorthmustbeadaptedtosurvivelongcoldwin-terswithlotsofsnow.Severewinterslikewehavejustexperiencedserveapurposetoweedoutmaladaptedanimalsthosewhocannotsurvivetheseharshcondi-tions.Itistheseconditionswhichmakethedeerherdstrong.Butitisimportantalsothatwildlifemanagerscanrespondtotheseconditionswhenconsideringharvestlevelsinthecomingyear.WisconsinwaawaashkeshiwagdeerTherehavebeenchangesimplementedinWisconsindeermanagementthisyearasaresultoftheDeerTrusteeReportandtheimplementationoftherecom-mendationsitcontained.Oneimportantchangeinvolvedtheadoptionofcountiesasdeermanagementunitsdiscontinuingtheuseoftheoldunitsystem.Thisinvolvedchangingpopulationestimatesfromtheoldunitstothenewcounty-basedunits.Thiswasacomplextaskbutdidnotchangetheapparentoutcomeoftheeffectsofwinterondeerpopulations.Deerpopulationswillbelowerinthefallof2014thantheywereinthefallof2013inmostofthecountiesinthecededterritorythiswillnotbetrueinfarmlandcounties.Inmostyearsasdeerpopulationsgofrompostseasonearlywinterthroughallofthewinterdeerpopulationsdeclineasdeerdie.Whenspringtimecomesandfawnsarebornthepopulationtakesajumpupwards.Thenfawnsdiedur-ingthesummerandthepopulationdeclinesagain.Usuallytherearemoredeeralivejustpriortothehuntingseasonthanwerealivejustafterthepreviousyearshuntingseason.HoweverthisyearitisexpectedthattherewillbefewerdeerinSeptemberthanwerehereinlastDecember.Theresultsoftheseverewinterandtheeffectsonpopulationlevelsmeansthatantlerlessdeerharvestsshouldbereduced.TheWisconsinDepartmentofNaturalResourcesWDNRandGLIFWCareworkingtogethertoensurethatthenewmanagementsystemwhichisinplaceaftertheDeerTrusteeReportimplemen-tationcontinuestoprotectandenhancedeerpopulationsinthecededterritory.WisconsinomashkoozoogelkInmuchthesamewaythatwinterseverityaffectsdeeritcanhavesimilareffectsonelk.Butelkcantoleratedeepersnowandcoldertemperaturesthandeer.Theyhavelongerlegstonavigatethedeepsnowandtheirlargebodysizeprovidesforalargersurfaceareavolumeratiowhichhelpstoconserveenergy.Buteventheelkfelttheeffectsofwinterthisyear.Severalyounganimalshavediedduetostarvationoneoftheonlyyearsinwhichstarvationmortalityhasbeendocumented.InMarch2014biologistsfromtheWDNRUSForestServiceGLIFWCandseveraltribesmettoreviewtheWisconsinelkpopulationstatusandtomakearecommendationforahuntingseasonin2014.AccordingtotheWDNRrulestheelkstipulationbetweenthetribesandDNRnoelkhuntingseasoncanoccuruntiltheelkpopulationexceeds200animals.AssimpleasthistaskappearsitisHighwinterseverityindexinWis.suggestshigherthannormaldeerelkmortalityByJonGilbertPhDGLIFWCWildlifeBiologistChi-biboonsparksemergencydeerfeedinginMinnFondduLacrezAFondduLacNaturalResourcestechnicianandawhite-taileddeereyeeachotheratanemergencyfeedingsiteontheFDLreservation.MikeSchragephoto.InsetCommerciallyprocesseddeerfeedcontainsvitaminsandmixedgrains.CORByCharlieOttoRasmussenStaffWriterSeeDeerElkmortalitypage23CloquetMinn.AfterthreemonthsofunyieldingheavysnowsandfrigidtemperaturesresidentsoftheFondduLacReservationFDLcametothesameconclusionthelocaldeerherdneedsahelpinghand.Withvocalsupportfromtribalmembersbackedbynon-nativeslivingontheeasternMinnesotareservationFDLofficialsjoinedthestatesemergencydeerfeedingprogram.ItsimpressivetoseethenumberofpeoplewantingtohelpdeerthisyearsaidMikeSchrageFDLwildlifebiologist.TherehavebeenallsortsofpeoplethatIwouldntnormallyhavecontactwith.Onesuretakeawayisthatmanynorthlandersarepartialtowhite-taileddeer.Themorenebulousdeductionistheimpactemergencyfeedingwillactuallyhaveonlocalherdnumbers.SomedeerdiedinspiteofourfeedingwhileotherswouldhavemadeitanywaySchrageexplained.Somedeerwecertainlyhelpedandpregnantdoesmayhavegoneintofawningseasoninbettercondition.InspiteofsomeinitialconcernsthatwolveswouldfindthedeerfeedingsitesandtakeadvantageofthesituationIveheardnoreportsofwolveskeyingintothosesitesatFondduLac.Thefeedlookslikerabbitpelletsandothercommerciallyavailableanimalforagebutitsspecificallyformulatedwithvitaminsandmixedgrainsforwilddeer.BeginninginearlyMarchFDLNaturalResourcesstaffandcommu-nityvolunteersdistributed5000-6000poundsoffeedeachweekuntillateApril.Morethantwentybackwoodsdrop-spotsscatteredacrossthe101000-acrereservationreceivedweeklyallocationsofthedeerchow.Schrageestimatesthat300-400deervisitedthesitesonaweeklybasis.Wepunchedintrailswithsnow-mobilesawayfromroadsgenerallyinareaswithheavyconifercover.ForthemostpartitdidnttakedeerlongtolocatethefoodSchragesaid.TheMinnesotaDeerHuntersAssociationcoordinatedfeedingeffortsinhuntingzoneswheretheWinterSeverityIndexWSIexceeded100byFebruary15.Theareaincludespubliclandsinboththe1837and1854Treatycededterritories.InMinnesotatheWSIisfactoredbytallyingdayswithsnowdepthgreaterthan15plusthenumberofdayswithtemperaturesbelowzero.Thebulkoftheemergencyfeedwenttolocationsnorth-by-northwestofthereservationbypassingtheArrowheadregionwherewildlifemanagerswanttokeepdeerdensitieslowtohelpreducediseasetransmissionfromwhitetailstomoose.Minnesotasemergencydeerfeed-ingprogramwasbornoutoftheseveredouble-whammywintersof1995-96and1996-97whennorthernresidentscalledontheDepartmentofNaturalResourcesDNRtorushfeedsnow-boundwhitetails.Thestatetackedona50-centsurchargetoeachdeerhuntinglicenseandearmarkedthemoneyforemergencyfeedandwhitetaildiseasetesting.DNRauthoritieshowevergavethe2014initiativealukewarmrecep-tioncitingconcernsaboutthespreadofdiseaseamongconcentrateddeerandtheinabilityoftheefforttomakemuchofadifferenceinthedeerpopulationatthebroadlandscapelevel.SaidSchrageWedonthaveanypositivediseaseresultstoworryaboutinthispartofMinnesota.Themoneywasalreadythereandfeedingcertainlyhashelpedsomedeer.OverallIthinkitsbeenapositiveexperience.Peoplefeelbetterfortryingtohelp.