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17

Oct

Winter 2016/2017 Survival

The winter of 2016/2017 was abnormally severe in the western portion of Wyoming. Record snowfalls, cold temperatures, and persistent stretches of inclement weather combined to negatively affect animals on winter ranges.  The Greater Little Mountain Area (GLMA) was not entirely spared by this weather pattern, though the severity south of Rock Springs ebbed and flowed as the winter progressed. In late January-early February, a brief warm period with little precipitation provided a reprieve for animals on winter range. This brief period likely helped animals cope with the remainder of winter.

Although winter was not quite as severe south of Rock Springs, a number of animals were lost because of winter conditions or a combination of winter conditions and predation. Several animals were lost around Christmas to predation by mountain lions and several were lost towards the end of winter to apparent malnutrition-related causes.  Adult mortalities over winter in the Wyoming Range were almost double that experienced by the south Rock Springs herd, of which most was malnutrition-related.

Fawn mortality in 2016 for the south Rock Springs herd was nearly 75% by November, which left 10 remaining fawns to survive the winter months. By April, 5 of the remaining fawns from the summer were still alive, amounting to roughly 91% fawn mortality from the summer of 2016 through spring 2017.

 

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