Trail breaking making a difference for Island deer

Al Taylor of H and R Noble Construction operates a bulldozer, used earlier this week to break trails for deer so they can access food sources on Western Manitoulin.

MANITOULIN—One of the many people helping to break snow trails to assist deer gain access to food sources said the process, which is ongoing, appears to be working despite the loss of a few deer so far this winter.

“I know bulldozers, trucks and volunteers have been breaking trails across Manitoulin,” said Ian Anderson, on Monday. “This equipment has been out in a number of places across the Island, but I don’t think the trail breaking is done. For example, there are places in central West Manitoulin that trail breaking is still being done.”

Mr. Anderson said that deer are definitely taking advantage of the trails being broken for them. “Without question, in the limited time I spent with the bulldozers when they were breaking trails, I found on the same day I would see deer using the trails. The whole benefit of the trails is to allow deer access to food sources they wouldn’t be able to get at and it has allowed the deer to move from areas where they have basically been trapped for weeks and allows them to explore the new food sources.”

While the work is continuing and is benefiting the deer to get to new food sources, not all is good. “I have found some fawns that have succumbed to the (weather) conditions,” said Mr. Anderson. “I know of at least seven to eight, which is to be expected in the weather conditions we’ve had this year.”

He explained, “we don’t usually see deer fawn loss until late March or April, so it is a little unusual to see any, particularly in February and early March. It is not getting any better looking outside (with snow coming down).”
“My greatest fear is if the winter conditions continue on for awhile. It will be difficult on the deer if there is not a dramatic reduction in the amount of snow fall or if temperatures don’t go up,” said Mr. Anderson.