Provincial biologists are keeping a close watch on moose and deer populations to see how the animals are faring with the heavy snow that has fallen this winter.

Joe Kennedy, a biologist with the Department of Natural Resources, said the moose population appears to be dealing well with the snow.

He said the average snow depth in forests across the province is about one metre but most of it's mainly light and fluffy.

Last week, Kennedy said, a moose biologist observed the animals travelling about three kilometres a day in the snow.

“They can easily access food in open areas where deer would have a much more difficult time,” he said.

Winter wonderland

Joe Kennedy, a provincial biologist, said deer still have about 75 per cent of their fat stores left but that can quickly be used up if they cannot get access to more food.

Kennedy said some parts of Albert County, near Moncton, have more than one metre of snow. Complicating matters for the moose, the last was heavy and wet.

He said moose in that area are coping by concentrating in smaller pockets of forest.

While moose seem to be handling the snowfall relatively well, Kennedy said the next few weeks are critical for the deer population.

Kennedy said food sources will start to run out if snow keeps falling. He said deer still have about 75 per cent of their fat stores left but that can quickly be used up.

“When you get into a winter like last year, when we had snows into April, we have deer with body fat down to about one or two per cent,” he said.

“That's when they're starving to death, literally.’

Provincial biologists determine the body fat of deer by analyzing road kill.

Kennedy said the deer mortality rate last winter was close to 20 per cent. Another year like that would mean further restrictions on doe hunting permits.

The average mortality rate over the last two decades was 12 per cent.