We are entering crunch time. That time of the year when spring and winter play a tug of war, and depending on how it goes, deer and elk could be the losers.
Members of the deer family that go into winter in good shape have the energy reserves and body fat to survive December and February’s cold spells. But a long winter that continues through March and April will start to kill the smallest and weakest.
And if we humans are not careful, we’ll cause some of the bigger animals to die.
By March and April, many animals will have used up the majority of their nutritional reserves.
Elk are big and tough and will go where there is food. But even elk have limited reserves and when humans cause elk to move, things can turn ugly.
That’s because March is the month a mature bull elk will lose his antlers. The last thing they need is someone chasing them around on foot, horseback or snowmobile, trying to get an antler which can be sold. That bull elk may run away today, but die from exhaustion next week.
Fish Wildlife and Parks’ wildlife management areas are closed to people now, many to give elk a rest. But there are other places on public land where folks can easily reach elk winter range.
March is a good month to give wildlife a break. Let them alone. Let them struggle through, perhaps, another month of winter as nature has designed.