REGIONAL— Barring a significant change in the weather, the North Country deer population looks poised for a fourth-straight milder-than-usual winter— and that should allow for continued growth in …
REGIONAL— Barring a significant change in the weather, the North Country deer population looks poised for a fourth-straight milder-than-usual winter— and that should allow for continued growth in the region’s whitetail population.
While the region has seen its typical share of cold weather this winter, the relatively dry conditions have kept the winter severity index, or WSI, for deer lower than might otherwise be expected.
“Extreme cold temperatures, without deep snow, do not negatively impact white-tailed deer survival,” said Tower DNR Area Wildlife Manager Tom Rusch.
The Department of Natural Resources regularly tracks the WSI as a means of predicting winter mortality of deer. The index includes a point for every day with a below-zero temperature reading and a point for every day with a snow depth of 15 inches or greater.
So far, most parts of the region have received only cold temperature points, since only the northwestern corner of St. Louis County and the eastern tip of the Arrowhead have reached the required 15 inches of snow depth.
As of Jan. 31, the WSI ranged from just 27 to 52 in the nine local deer permit areas in northeastern Minnesota. “These are all very low or mild indices for a northeastern Minnesota winter and are almost identical to 2017,” said Rusch. Without significant additional snowfall over the next few weeks, the WSI is likely to finish up on the mild side for the fourth year in a row.
“Fawn production should be excellent, again, this spring,” said Rusch. “Four consecutive mild-to-moderate winters is the prescription for northern forest deer population recovery from the severe winters of 2012-13 and 2013-14.”