Frozen in Time
Feb 17, 2008
Colorado Department of Wildlife Forced to Feed Deer in Eagle County

By Matt Terrell, Eagle County Correspondent

Feeding operations were started because the animals appear to be in desperate condition. Because of a harsh and snowy winter, wildlife managers will start feeding starving deer near Eagle and Wolcott for just the third time in almost 25 years. The consistent, heavy snowfall that’s been so good for the ski slopes has covered up the small plants and shrubs, like sage brush, that deer eat in the winter. Deer don’t store as much fat as elk, so those plants that poke up through the snow are vital to their survival.

Now, the deer are hungry enough to start stripping juniper trees, which have almost no nutrition. It’s a sure sign of desperation, says Randy Hampton, spokesman for the Division of Wildlife. The Division of Wildlife will only consider feeding animals if there’s a chance more than 30 percent of adult female deer will die in a winter. This has only happened in the winters of 1983-1984 and 1996-1997, and it looks like that could happen.

Colorado Department of Wildlife Photo

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