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Environment


Northeast Ohio wildlife survives the cold, some better than others
Most native species adapt to low temperatures but deep snow can be a problem.
by WKSU's MARK URYCKI


Senior Reporter
Mark Urycki
 
Most native plants and animals do well in the cold. Deep snow may help tree roots, but makes food hard to find for critters.
Courtesy of MARK URYCKI
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Prolonged periods of zero-degree weather can be hard on the man-made environment. But in the woods, Mother Nature has learned to cope with the deep freeze. Still, as WKSU’s Mark Urycki reports, some wildlife does better than others.

Lisa Petit discusses wildlife in the cold

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In summer it’s not the heat it’s the humidity.  In winter it’s not the cold it’s the snow.  At least for most animals.  The native deer, coyotes, rabbits, and birds have long adapted to cold weather.  Lisa Petit of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park says they saw a significant die-off of deer in 2006 due to deep snow that stayed on the ground for many weeks

“They’re pretty well adapted to the snow in general, it’s the matter of finding food.   And if they’re nutritionally stressed then this kind of snow cover and difficulty finding food makes it tougher for them.  And that’s where they often have mortality – because of that reason.”

Petit, the Chief of Science and Resources Management at the park says as small animals stay burrowed down in their dens, predators like coyotes will have a harder time.  But on the other hand, deep snow provides excellent insulation for tree roots. Petit says some birds like the Carolina Wren and insects, like ticks, that have migrated up from the south will experience a die-off due to the cold.    

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