Fish and Game member asks for help to conduct dead deer survey

GORE BAY—A member of the Gore Bay Fish and Game Club (GBFGC) has requested that members of the club help him to carry out a dead deer survey in the area to gauge how tough this past winter has been on them. 

“I wanted to ask for help as I would like to do a dead deer survey in one of the deeryards-snow stations to get an idea on how tough things have been this year,” said Ian Anderson at a GBFGC meeting last week. “I’m up to 17-18 (deceased) deer that I have found,” he said, noting, “all of these were fawns except for one.”

“And there are a lot of coyotes around to prey on the deer this winter,” said Mr. Anderson. “They have been hovering on the crust and ice in the snow. You can tell the difference between those that have been taken by predators (and those taken by the harsh winter we have had) because of the amount of blood around them.”

“I expect a lot of fawns won’t make it this year,” said Mr. Anderson. He said right now, green-up, is the time of the year when the deer mortality usually begins. However, “green-up will likely be late again this year.”

Mr. Anderson said he would like to carry out the survey (once the snow is gone), “where there is a lot of deer concentration in a small area.” 

“It would be ludicrous to think we are not going to lose deer this year, we are,” stated Mr. Anderson. “But I would like to do the survey to get a feeling of what has happened over the winter.” He noted logically there will also have to be a reduction in the number of deer tags the MNRF provides for hunters on the Island for this year’s annual fall hunt. 

“It is what it is,” said Mr. Anderson, adding that if managed well, the deer herds will recover fairly quickly as long as the Island does not get hit with the same type of weather conditions again next year.

Mr. Anderson noted that it wasn’t until the third week of January that the snow depths surpassed the 20-inch snow level, which is the level that deer start being impacted.

“One area I checked had 74 centimetres of snow on the ground and at a snow station there was still close to 30 inches of snow last Monday,” continued Mr. Anderson. He said that on the West End of Manitoulin there were over 90 centimetres of snow on the ground during the worst part of the winter. “That’s three feet of snow and in places there is as much as four feet, and with drifts five or six foot.”

“I have been on the Island since 1973 and I’ve never seen so much snow on the ground as this winter,” said Mr. Anderson. He said that as bad as conditions have been on Manitoulin Island, it is even worse on the North Shore. 

He added, “there is no question the bulldozers used to open trails for deer to get to browse, and volunteers cutting browse and breaking trails helped the deer. There will be a loss of deer this year but it will still not be as significant as it could have been because of this.”