Sunday, May 31, 2020
Winter Hard on Deer but Not So Bad for Elk
Wednesday, June 12, 2019


Some of us may still be nursing a few aches and pains from shoveling during the month-long snowstorm of February 2019.

But how did the deer and elk fare?

Significant February snowstorms coupled with a cool, wet spring resulted in below-average survival rates for radio-collared mule deer fawns, according to Idaho Fish and Game officials. But it had less effect on collared elk calves.

Statewide, 42 percent of radio-collared fawns survived the winter. That’s below the long-term average of 58 percent. But it’s above the 30 percent that survived the winter of 2016-17, which was an unusually harsh winter.

Sixty-nine percent of radio-collared calves were still alive by the end of May, according to Brian Pearson, conservation public information specialist. That’s above the 66 percent that survived through May in 2017-18 and it’s above the 52 percent that survived the harsh winter of 2016-17.

The high is 84 percent that survived in 2014-15.

Idaho Fish and Game biologists monitored 209 mule deer fawns and 196 elk calves that they captured in early winter and fitted with telemetry collars.

Pearson said adult deer and elk typically survive at high rates unless it’s an extreme winter.

Ninety-one percent of 539 radio-collared mule deer does monitored by Fish and Game researchers survived winter. And 96 percent of the 578 collared cows survived.


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