A Winter’s Tale

"Got lunch?" . . . .

“Got lunch?” . . . .

These scruffy little fawns look as though they are on their last leg of survival.  Our deer herd of a dozen or so appeared to be wintering fairly well, but March is telling the tale.  We were shocked to see how they had declined in recent weeks, and are praying that spring brings some relief for them, and soon!  March has been cold and windy, and what little snow we received has little moisture in it.  After the severe drought of last year, we are keeping our fingers crossed that we will have a wet spring and a decent amount of moisture throughout the summer.  Without it, all the wildlife will suffer.

It is unlawful to feed the deer, however Wyoming ranchers have been feeding them de facto on their hay meadows for the last century, along with antelope and elk.  It has contributed to the rise in populations of these ungulates, who have benefited greatly from the wintertime hay for feed.  Deer are browsers and they keep our lilacs, willows and chokecherries free of small branches and twigs at the lower reaches.  When that food supply is gone, they appear to browse for dry grasses, leaves and whatever they can find on the ground.

We have had only one fatality this winter and it appeared to be a perfectly healthy young doe we found down in the creek bottom.  There were no marks on her and she obviously died of natural causes.  I hope she is the last.

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