Like much of the nation, Minnesota has been rocked by low temperatures and heavy snowfall for the past few weeks. While the state’s residents try to warm themselves at home, the deer population is struggling to find food in an especially frigid winter. According to the Star Tribune, the state’s Department of Natural Resources recently released funds from an emergency account to begin deer feeding in as little as two weeks.
“They’re belly deep in the snow. They’re using a lot of energy to try to find food, and we’ve had some brutal cold temperatures also for an extended period of time,” Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA) regional director Gary Thompson told WDIO.
It is a measure that the state has not visited since 1996 when two consecutive winters caused widespread deaths among the state’s deer population. The feeding is expected to cost roughly $170,000. Sportsmen’s associations such as the MDHA have already praised the release of funds, as well as many hunters.
In essence, the funds came from the hunters themselves. The emergency account was collected from a small surcharge on hunting licenses and has been slowly building for past 15 years.
“It will help the deer that are out there that can get to the feed get more nutrition to help get through the winter,” said Brad Trevena, MDHA director for Region 3.
The feeding program will take place across northern Minnesota where hunters say deer are growing increasingly scarce. The MDHA, along with other volunteer groups, will be playing a large role in the emergency feeding. The feed will be delivered by volunteers directly to places where deer congregate. Some worry that that feeding will spread disease when deer gather for food, while others question the effectiveness of the program.
“I’m not sure it helps all that much,” said state Representative David Dill (DFL-Crane Lake). “On the other hand, deer in the north are hurting this year, and people want to help.”
So how cold is it in Minnesota? Extremely low temperatures last month closed down many businesses across the state, including ski slopes. With windchill factored in, some parts of the state recorded temperatures 40 below zero.