Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Winter, A Struggle For Survival

Many recent winters have had little substantial snowfall here in southcentral Pennsylvania, and survival has been relatively easy for the creatures of the great outdoors. Such was the case during most of the winter this year. This all changed last weekend when over 20" of snow fell.

Snow Makes Dramatic Photographic Opportunities

While the snow makes for great photographs, it makes it much more difficult for wildlife to find food. Deer usually feed by browsing on twigs or grazing in meadows and the deep snow makes grazing difficult. The worst case scenario is when snowfall is followed by a rainstorm, which in turn is followed by an extended cold snap. This causes a hard crust to form, which makes it impossible for the animals to reach the buried grasses and makes travel very difficult and hazardous.

Deep Snow Makes Travel Difficult And Food Hard To Find.

Property owners and managers that have access to a tractor with a front end loader or blade may easily improve conditions for wildlife by plowing travel lanes through grassy meadows. This has a two-fold benefit as it exposes grasses for wildlife to feed on and at the same time provides areas where they may walk without being stressed by the deep snow. Areas such as this will attract not only animals such as deer and elk, but are also excellent for turkeys and song birds.

Travel Lanes Increase Chances Of Survival And Provide Feeding Areas

I first learned of this management tool while working for The Pennsylvania Game Commission's game lands maintenance division, which is know as "The Food And Cover Corps" and have continued to use this principle to this day on lands which I manage for wildlife. There is no doubt that it is a cost effective way to assist wildlife in the bitter struggle of winter survival.

7 comments:

Heather said...

I love learning about all the initiatives taken to improve circumstances for the animals we all admire and enjoy. Thank you once again Willard!

Dina said...

They do look so happy to have a lane to run in.

imac said...

Its so nice to hear and see they are being well looked after, for they give so much pleasure to see.

HANNIBAL said...

I never knew! I'm sooo glad they do this! Most of the time, I complain about the disturbances they cause, but this made my morning!

Brad Myers said...

Willard another great post. The photos are fantastic as always. It is good to see you are doing your part to ensure the survival of these whitetails and other animals. I know if it kep snowing the bird seed I am using will break the bank, LOL. Stay warm and safe, I am trapped at the fire station until God knows when.

Garden Lily said...

What a neat photo, showing that these "travel lanes" really work! Thanks for sharing.

lv2scpbk said...

Love the close up shot and the deer running in the field. It does make for a hard winter with all the snow. I'll be glad to see spring as I think the animals will too. We have to dig out a path for our dog to go potty outside otherwise he'd be buried as he is very short.