After a quiet start to the winter season we have now experienced much colder and snowier weather over recent months. And with a widespread one to two feet of snow on the ground across much of Northeast Wisconsin, that snow could eventually cause some issues for deer across our area.
“So when we talk about white tail deer in winter it’s on people’s mind now because we’ve had a pretty stiff winter over the past five weeks or so.” – Jeff Pritzl, WI DNR Regional Wildlife Supervisor
For several decades the Wisconsin DNR has used a Winter Severity Index that helps determine what type of impact the weather could have on the deer herd. Younger deer have the highest risk of experiencing negative impacts from severe cold and increased snow depth.
“It’s simply a very basic tracking of giving each day of the winter a point if the temperature drops below zero or if the snow depth is 18 inches or greater. And so from Green Bay south it’s very rare for that Winter Severity Index to get to a point where it’s going to have a negative impact on deer. It can happen, but it doesn’t happen very often.”
The index is broken up into four categories: Mild, Moderate, High, and Very High based on the amount of points accumulated through the winter.
“We’ve entered into moderate in the northern third of the state basically as of right now. So the real question is what will happen for the rest of March? If it warms up at the end of the week and winter breaks and we don’t get anymore below zero weather we won’t be accumulating anymore points. Snow depth is significant in the northern tier counties and even Door county so it’s going to take a little while before that snow drops below 18 inches. So we can anticipate accumulating additional snow depth points into the coming weeks.”
For more information on the Winter Severity Index and rules for feeding deer follow the links below.
Below is an extended interview with Jeff Pritzl with the WI DNR