Officials with the Division of Wildlife Resources are concerned about cold temperatures and how those temperatures might affect deer if the weather doesnвЂ™t warm up soon.
Watching the deer herds
Since the start of December, DWR biologists have been monitoring deer herds across Utah. В The following are the five factors biologists monitor to determine how well the deer are doing:
вЂў The condition of the deer as they entered the winter
вЂў The amount of food thatвЂ™s available to the deer on winter ranges
вЂў How deep the snow is
вЂў How cold the temperature is
вЂў The amount of body fat they find on deer that have been killed along roads.
Deer in good shape
Anis Aoude, big game coordinator for the DWR, says one of the five factorsвЂ”the temperatureвЂ”has reached a critical point in some areas in Utah.
Despite the cold temperatures, Aoude says UtahвЂ™s deer herds are doing well.
вЂњFortunately,вЂќ he says, вЂњdeer went into the winter with an average layer of fat on them. В And the snow depth in most of the state is not covering the vegetation. В Slopes that face south are nearly bare in some areas, so the deer can still find food.вЂќ
If conditions deteriorate, biologists will consider feeding deer specially designed pellets.
The pellets are formulated to fit the complex digestive system mule deer have. В The pellets are also designed to give deer extra energy. В Extra energy is something deer often need when the temperature is cold and the snow is deep.
If the need arises, the DWR is ready to purchase pellets and feed deer.
Aoude says DWR biologists will continue to monitor the deer herds closely. В вЂњIf feeding becomes necessary,вЂќ he says, вЂњweвЂ™ll make sure itвЂ™s done at the right time and with the right type of food.вЂќ
How you can help
To help them get through the winter, deer put weight on throughout the spring, summer and fall.
Anytime a deer is disturbed, it has to burn some of its precious fat reserves to try to escape the threat.
With that in mind, not disturbing deer is one of the best things you can do to help deer in the winter:
вЂў When youвЂ™re in the backcountry, keep your dog on a leash. В DonвЂ™t let your dog harass deer.
вЂў If you encounter deer while hiking, skiing or snowmobiling, give the animals plenty of space, and remain as quiet as you can.
вЂў SLOW DOWN while driving through areas where deer live. В ItвЂ™s especially important to drive slowly at dawn and dusk, when deer are most active.
вЂў Pay attention to wildlife crossing signs.
вЂў Watch for movement along the side of the road. В If you spot one deer, thereвЂ™s a
good chance other deer are with it.
A new websiteвЂ”www.watchfordeerutah.comвЂ”provides more information about deer behavior and how to drive safely in deer country.
Contact: Mark Hadley, DWR Relations with the Public Specialist 801-538-4737