Deeper than normal snow at this time of the year continues to be a concern, reports Larry Petersen, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources area wildlife supervisor.
Snow depth is a part of the equation when figuring a winter severity index, a standardized number resource managers use when considering impacts of the winter on deer, Petersen said. It is calculated using temperature and snow depth in the period from Nov. 1 through April 30 or whenever winter ends. Every day the daily low temperature is zero or below is one point, and every day the snow depth is 15 inches or deeper in an open aspen woods is one point. The points are added each week until winter ends.
The WSI for the International Falls area was 72 Wednesday, he reported. It was 52 last year at this date, and 65 two years ago.
The average WSI for this date is about 67. Borderland’s harshest winter in the mid 1990s had an index of 126 on this date.
The snow remains deeper than normal for this time of year and ranges from 18 to 24 inches in the International Falls vicinity, according to Peterson.
“On average we have about 16 inches by this date,” he reports. “While the index is at average, the deeper snow continues to be a concern for deer as winter progresses.”
All the winter severity data dates from 1966 to present.
Statewide WSI information for the current and past few years along with a variety of deer management information can be found at the DNR website:
Also, there is an on-line survey open until Feb. 16 for people to provide input on deer populations.
“We are currently in the process in re-setting deer population goals for several permit areas, including the two within Koochiching County,” he said.
The survey and more information about the goal-setting can be found at:
The DNR will host the second of two workshops to gather input on deer management and receive feedback on future deer population trends in the Agassiz-Littlefork goal block: Deer Permit Areas 101, 103, 105, 108, 110 and 111.
The workshop will be held from 6-9 p.m. Feb. 27 at Rainy River Community College, International Falls. For those not able to travel to International Falls. There is a satellite workshop location offered on the same date and at the same time at the DNR Warroad Area Office.
Participants will discuss solutions to the issues brought forward in the first workshop and create recommendations for the deer populations in those blocks.
Anyone may attend the workshop, regardless of affiliation or knowledge of the process. Background information will be provided. Attendees are highly encouraged to RSVP on the DNR goal-setting webpage https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/mammals/deer/management/population.html.
The DNR sets deer population goals — how much of an increase or decrease is desired in a deer population in a particular deer permit area — as part of managing the state’s wild deer herd. Deer population goals will be updated on a staggered basis in 14 regional goal-setting blocks that are made of multiple deer permit areas. The population goals established in this process will provide direction for management over 10 years, with a midpoint review every five years.