When the snow begins to pile up again in Colorado, mule deer will show up at the feed sites established last winter by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. However, citizens should not provide any type of feed to deer or attempt to get close to them. Feeding big game is illegal unless authorized by the Colorado Department of Wildlife (DOW). The 2008 feeding operation was an extraordinary event because of the unusually deep snow and extremely cold temperatures. In an average winter, mule deer can be expected to find enough natural forage. But even average winters are tough on healthy mule deer. Deer usually lose about 20 percent of their body weight during winter and that decline in body mass means that weaker animals will not make it to the spring. Even during average winters, 15 to 20 percent of the deer herd may die. Survival depends greatly on the health of the deer going into the winter.
In January of 2009, DOW big game biologists will begin their annual classification and census flights throughout the area. With that survey data, the DOW will better understand how many deer survived the winter of 2008. Flight data will also provide timely information necessary for discussing and setting hunting license allocation for 2009. If game damage circumstances arise with either deer or elk, ranchers and landowners should contact their local District Wildlife Manager or the DOW office.