Wildlife Shivering Through Winter

The weekend brought more record cold to the region – with Dickinson registering the coldest high temperature on any March Third on record.
It continues a long stretch of frigid conditions.
And while you and I struggle to stay warm – imagine the wildlife living outside 24/7.
Jim Olson takes us into the cold to see how they’re doing.

(Greg Gullickson, ND Game & Fish Biologist) “Probably one of the most important things to wintering wildlife is thermal cover.”

For deer and pheasants and moose and rabbits – that often means trees.

(Greg Gullickson, ND Game & Fish Biologist) “There’s good winter cover like the ponderosa pines like we have here – and evergreen species. But in these, there’s some components that provide a wintertime food source. For example, there’s a lot of these trees that have berries still on them, and that wildlife is utilizing them.”

The animals will also make use of sloughs where cattails remain standing.

(Greg Gullickson, ND Game & Fish Biologist) “Even something as simple as a cattail slough provides a lot of benefit. Even with all the snow and wind and cold, there’s still some great cover out here in cattail sloughs.”

Greg Gullickson lives in rural McLean County and makes sure to provide more than just tree rows and cattails for wildlife – he also plants a food plot where animals find the energy to fight the cold.

(Greg Gullickson, ND Game & Fish Biologist) “The main thing with that is planting it close to cover so they’re not having to fly way out, or deer having to go way away from this thermal cover to get to the food.”

The result is a chance to see lots of wildlife in the winter – from deer to partridge. That’s what made these impressions in the snow.

(Greg Gullickson, ND Game & Fish Biologist) “They’re still able to scratch down and find some food down there.”

And that’s something Gullickson says has been pretty good for wildlife this winter – even with the current cold, the snow’s not so deep they can’t find the food that’s underneath.

(Greg Gullickson, ND Game & Fish Biologist) “Even the pheasants are finding some of these hilltop areas where the fields have blown off and they’re able to scratch and get down and find some grit and find some of that waste grain that’s been left behind as well.”

Overall, he says the winter hasn’t been too bad on wildlife – because of the late start to the coldest weather.

(Greg Gullickson, ND Game & Fish Biologist) “We really didn’t start winter until about the middle of January. So we basically had two bonus months.”
 
Bonus months when animals built up fat reserves to survive the current cold. In McLean County, Jim Olson, KX News.

Gullickson says the danger now is for a thaw followed by another cold, snowy period. That, he says, can be hard on critters that might move away from their cover during the warm-up.
 

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