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Biologists keeping close eye on deer

By Sun Advocate

Snow and cold temperatures have blanketed the places mule deer live in Utah. And that’s brought Division of Wildlife Resources biologists out in force.
As they do every winter, biologists are monitoring the state’s deer herds closely. If conditions get too severe, the biologists are prepared to feed the deer specially designed pellets. The pellets supplement the natural diet of the deer when the browse the deer normally eat is limited. To help the deer, biologists encourage you not to feed deer on your own. In most cases, feeding deer can actually hurt the animals more than it helps them.
“If winter conditions get too severe, though,” says Justin Shannon, big game coordinator for the DWR, “feeding deer these specially designed pellets can be worth the potential risks.”

Monitoring four things

At checkpoints this past fall, DWR biologists measured the amount of fat on deer taken by hunters. The amount of fat deer have in the fall is important; when food is hard to find in the winter, deer rely on their fat reserves to get them through the season.
Shannon says the deer that came through the checkpoints were in really good condition. “They had plenty of fat reserves,” he says.
Keeping in mind the amount of fat the deer had last fall, Shannon says biologists are monitoring four things this winter:
– The amount of food available to the deer
– How deep the snow gets
– How cold the temperature gets
– The amount of body fat they find on deer that have been killed along roads
If at least three of the four factors reach a critical point, biologists will consider feeding deer the specially designed pellets.

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