Md. deer shrug off weather
Michael A. Sawyers
INDIAN SPRINGS — The cold and snowy weather that Garrett and Allegany counties experienced during the past two weeks is barely a blip on a deer’s survival radar, according to Maryland head deer biologist.
“Deer have had time to adapt to those kinds of conditions,” said Brian Eyler of the Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Service. “I don’t anticipate any significant problems.”
Eyler said recent winters have been so mild that there has been no need for crews to walk woodland routes to look for deer mortality.
“Because this winter has had more snow we will probably do some mortality surveys, probably in March,” Eyler said Thursday. “The last survey we did was five years ago.”
Eyler said that the snow cover has disappeared east of Frederick.
“Here at Indian Springs, we have about 60 percent snow cover and that will melt fast over the next few days when the temperatures get into the middle and upper 40s.”
Eyler said agency eyebrows raise and the concern for deer survival increases if crusted ice conditions are maintained for extended periods, making it difficult for deer to move around or find food.
He said predation of deer by other animals is not a big problem in far Western Maryland, under either good or bad weather conditions.
Eyler said there is no biological reason for residents to feed deer, even during bad weather.
“I know people like to feed deer and I understand their intentions, but it isn’t needed,” he said.
“In fact, it has some bad consequences such as grouping deer where disease can be spread.”
Eyler said feeding keeps deer in one area where they also eat any natural browse that is available, thus knocking it back.
“I got a call from an Eastern Shore woman the other day and she had hit a deer on the way to work and that evening her husband hit a deer at the same spot on the highway with their other vehicle.”
Eyler said artificial feeding of deer can make them cross roadways from a lounging habitat to the feeding area, thus exposing them to more risk of getting struck by a motor vehicle.
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