How frigid temperatures affect wildlife - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

How frigid temperatures affect wildlife

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RIB MOUNTAIN (WAOW) - As the arctic temperatures hit, animals are feeling the blast too.

They deal with the cold temperatures in different ways.

“To migrate or just get out of here,” said Cortney Schaefer, a wildlife biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “Which we see with a lot of our water fowl or other migratory species of birds. They also might go into dormancy things like a bear hibernating for the winter."

Some mammals just have to keep going.

“Continuing to be active throughout the winter and still struggling to find food on a day to day basis," said Schaefer.

Other animals like fish can handle the cold.

“The water temperature stays about the same water temperature, doesn't really fluctuate," said Tom Meronek, a fishery biologist with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Biologists say some types of fish in shallow water such as trout can die in this weather.

“When you get the super cold, even that water can start to crust over and freeze a little bit and you can get ice shelves on the trout streams," said Meronek.

Deer can die too.

“You can imagine when there's a few feet of snow on the ground and it's really windy it makes it even more difficult for them to find food,” said Schaefer.

A study last year from the Department of Natural Resources shows the top three reasons for deer deaths. The number one reason is hunting at 54%, then getting hit by cars at 17%, and finally starvation in frigid temperatures at 4%.

The study also finds deer deaths increase in March and April from the cold.

“Sometimes it's really difficult for them to start finding more food until April or May if we have a longer winter," said Schaefer. 
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