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The Effects of Harsh Winters on Deer

Deer are well adapted to cold air temperatures, if they are dry, their hair is hollow creating an insulation layer against cold.

However, deer populations can experience an increase in winter deaths because of extreme weather conditions. Where deer are challenged by extensive periods of debilitating cold rain, this will saturate their hair and the ground upon which they lie. If the conditions are then made worse by sudden snowfall and wind chill their demands for energy will exceed their capacity to eat sufficiently or to mobilise what body fat reserves that they may have.

Deer will continue to be affected even once the periods of heavy snow have passed and there may be secondary die-offs several weeks later when factors such as wet cold weather, insufficient forage and parasitic burdens take their toll on weakened animals.

It is therefore vital that the deer are not forced to waste their energy through unnecessary disturbance.


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