Sudbury

Group working to help save deer population on Manitoulin

There is an effort underway to help deer on Manitoulin Island this winter season. The extreme cold weather and heavy snow accumulation are preventing deer from finding food sources, which means many are dying or becoming emaciated.

Manitoulin Streams is asking landowners to create trails on property so deer can find food, escape predators

The deep snow on Manitoulin Island is making it difficult for deer to find food or escape predators so many are dying off or becoming emaciated. (Supplied/Manitoulin Streams Deer Save program)

There is an effort underway to help deer on Manitoulin Island over this extreme winter season.

A group called the Manitoulin Streams Improvement Association has initiated what it calls Deer Save Activities.

The extreme cold weather and heavy snow accumulation are affecting the deer population on the island says group director, Bob Florean.

He says some deer are dying or becoming emaciated because they can't get to food sources.

"We've got snow depths and also a very thick ice crust layers that are really compromising deer being able to move around," Florean said.

Florean explains that in the winter deer expend a lot of energy and the food they eat doesn't always provide the fuel to make up for that energy.

"By having to struggle, we're getting reports that the deer are right up to their shoulders [in snow], and if they go off the main trails because they're scared by predators or whatever, they easily bog down and the energy expended, they just burn out," he said.

The group Manitoulin Streams is asking landowners to create trails on their property to help the deer find their way to food sources this winter. (Supplied/Manitoulin Streams)

The group is now asking landowners to create trails on their property so the deer can find food or escape predators.

"What we're focused on is opening up roadways and trails with heavy equipment to allow them to travel more freely and then following that volunteers and other adjacent landowners in those areas can cut browse...browse being cedar branches, hardwood branches, etc."

Florean says Manitoulin Streams did something similar during the winter of 2014-2015.

He says at that time they started collecting money for a trust fund. Now they're seeking further donations to help pay for equipment and/or resources to open up core travel areas where the deer are concentrated.

Having a viable and healthy deer population on Manitoulin is important because hunting the animals is a big part of the island's tourism economy.

"Manitoulin is historically known as a destination for many many people, many of whom own properties there to engage in the harvest of deer annually."

On Manitoulin Island, deer are having a hard time getting to food sources and some are even dying. So the organization Manitoulin Streams is urging residents to help deer by clearing paths through the snow for them, among other measures. It's launched an initiative called Deer Save. It wants to maintain a healthy deer population on the island in order to keep tourists and hunters visiting. Bob Florean is a board member with Manitoulin Streams. He spoke with Up North host Waubgesig Rice. I reached him by phone earlier to ask about the program. 6:28

With files from Waubgeshig Rice

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