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Thread: Can deer freeze to death?

  1. #1
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    Can deer freeze to death?

    So I have seen a couple studies that cited a harsh winter for the decline in the population of deer. Just wondering how the extra cold kills them. Is it the cold itself? The lack of food? The length of winter?



    Is there a set standard like deer can't handle 30 days at -40 degree weather or something like that?


  2. #2
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    I think it is a lack of food, suppressed immune system because of it, extended nasty weather (blizzards), don't think the cold affects them as much as deep snow
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  3. #3
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    ANY animal can freeze to death.

  4. #4
    There is a formula, but I forget what it is. It's called the winter severity index. You can do some research on the MN DNR site about it. The deer are going to have another tough winter if the snow and cold continue.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by SBGobblers View Post
    ANY animal can freeze to death.
    well yes obviously any living thing can die due to cold, I guess my question wasn't so much IF but at what temp or under what conditions, smartguy.

  6. #6
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    Sure they can .....but there are a ton of factors. Snow cover.....depth of snow they need to move to get at buried food sources and the amount of energy expended to move vs nutrition received......mast crop.....more food on the ground in some years than others.

    Most die in the winter from lack of food...a well fed deer can withstand much more cold than a starving one.

    Here in the NE deer are found dead in the winter with bellies full of pine needles or tree bark. They eat stuff with no nutritional value just to ease hunger pangs and die of starvation anyway.

    So it seems that a combination of cold and other factors contribute....not JUST the cold. Heck, deer survive Northern Canadian winters....as long as they have food.

    Tough life they lead.
    Last edited by Joe W.; December 16th, 2008 at 11:26 AM.
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  7. #7

    Yes

    Minnesota has had a couple of winters that have resulted in large losses of the deer herd
    Cold and snow deprh are the problems .

  8. #8
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    thanks for the info

    my grandpa used to have an apple tree, one hard winter the deer ate all the bark off of it and it died. Or they try and get at the bird feeders. That pisses the old folks off.

  9. #9
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    Boils down to food sources. Deer can keep their body temps up to withstand any temps that mother nature can produce in North America. But if their caloric intake is less than the demand of their metabolism to maintain body temp, they will die. Also very important for deer to put on lots of fat in the fall to help insulate them as well as supplement their nutritional needs. Bucks are much more prone to winter kill than does because of the rut.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by *wk* View Post
    Boils down to food sources. Deer can keep their body temps up to withstand any temps that mother nature can produce in North America. But if their caloric intake is less than the demand of their metabolism to maintain body temp, they will die. Also very important for deer to put on lots of fat in the fall to help insulate them as well as supplement their nutritional needs. Bucks are much more prone to winter kill than does because of the rut.
    So is it a bad sign that the spike I shot in September had very little fat? He did have a very full belly though.

    btw thanks for the response, good info

  11. #11
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    it takes a lot of calories to maintain body temp in cold weather. also, moving snow to get at food sources burns calories, possibly as many as they are taking in depending on the area. consistently burning more calories than they are taking in makes it tough to make it through the winter

  12. #12
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    a well fed deer can walk around feeding at 20 below (saw this in minot ND). but after about 3-4 days without food no matter what or how much they eat they still die....starve to death with a gut full...
    stephen J.Bear...

  13. #13
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    Of course they can...they are a living creature
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  14. #14
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    if they get cold enough
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  15. #15
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    No deer don't just die because of the cold.. they adapted very well with any kind of weathers.. They die due to starvations. If the deer population is overwhelms and there is not enough food to feed all of them when the blizzard hit, than some of them will die. Disease is also a big factor in the deer herd that make them sick and die, like CWD etc.
    I have seen deers dig out roots from the ground and chew on them to survived.
    Last edited by 3DLord; December 16th, 2008 at 02:26 PM.

  16. #16
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    When the snow is expecially deep and covering their winter food supplies, the extra deaths are mostly from a lack of food/nutrition. It takes burning of food to stoke their body temperature to keep them warm. A healthy, well fed deer can survive the harshest of winter.

    Acorns and lichen (fungus on tree trunks) are common winter foods in harsh climates. If there is six feet of snow on the ground, the deer can't find acorns and even tree trunks are covered.

    Lots of people feed hungry deer in the winter and no doubt that saves many lives.

    Ray

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