Harsh winter affecting wildlife

Cole Carruthers
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This year’s winter is taking a toll on Saskatchewan wildlife.

According to the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation (SWF) Moose Jaw branch, conditions are having a major affect on a number of species.

“With this year’s snow depths and the layers of ice –– the deer and antelope are doing poorly,” Darrell Crabbe, executive director with Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation told the Times-Herald.

Crabbe added ground birds such as partridge, grouse and pheasants are also suffering from the harsh winter.

“We haven’t seen it this bad in many years,” Crabbe said. “Foxes and coyotes are having increasingly difficult times, since the snow helps hide smaller prey.”

He said coyotes will take advantage of deer having such a hard time, and use it to their advantage. “You’ll see 100 (deer) all grouped together and coyotes will move in to try and take them down.”

Crabbe said it’s safe to say there is going to be a major kill off this year.

“When deer can’t forage for themselves, they’ll reabsorb their fetus ... if they know they can’t survive, neither will the fetus,” Crabbe said.

Crabbe said SWF has received 14 calls of people starting feeding programs, with a couple dozen of the SWF branches having also started programs.

“They are much better in the States with intercept programs that stop (deer) from eating shrubs on property, but the Catch-22 is they end up sticking around or start knocking down bird feeders for food,” Crabbe said about problems related to trying to alleviate wildlife hunger.

Another problem Crabbe mentioned were the problems of disease and predators following the deer herds when food is put out and provided.

“We have empathy and hate to see them starve, but you have to be concerned about all the other issues.”

For more on this article pick up the next issue of the Times-Herald.

Organizations: Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, Times-Herald

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Moose Jaw

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