How Michigan wildlife are dealing with harsh winter

BELDING, Mich. (WZZM) -- The cold weather might be bothering us, but the wildlife in West Michigan are slightly more tolerant. The Department of Natural Resources reminds people that, despite the frigid temperatures, native species in Michigan are built for the cold.

At the Flat River DNR office, John Niewoonder keeps an eye on native species like deer, turkeys, and rabbits. He points to a crab apple tree. "Rabbits are feeding on the branches. They can't normally reach those, but because of the snow pile, they are taking advantage of it right now."

The rabbits will be OK and so will the white tailed deer. They start storing fat in the fall and can survive rough winters. "We will lose a few young or sick deer; the injured ones, the ones that were compromised will have trouble getting through," explained Niewoonder.

The DNR says don't be surprised if you see the deer foraging for food and damaging trees. A limited amount of hunting permits are issued to farmers to deal with the problem. "Every year we have trouble in orchards and tree nurseries where deer come in and eat buds and young growth," said Niewoonder.

He says the only species that might be challenged this winter are wild turkeys and other birds. "They can't get into the normal food source, which is acorns, grains; those are covered up by snow and ice." But even then there is nothing you or the DNR can do, it's all part of life in Michigan.


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