Inside Climate News discusses how Global Warming Shortens Spring Feeding Season for Mule Deer in Wyoming. Migratory animals are facing new challenges as climate change reshapes landscapes; protecting migration corridors may be the key to survival for some.
Global warming presents a new and growing threat to lands where deer and antelope play. Droughts across the mountains and plains of Wyoming can cut the spring growing season from four months to two. That dries up nutrient-rich green grasses and shrubs just when they are needed most by migrating mule deer to replenish body fat after the winter, and to rear their young.
“Climate change is drastically affecting their food supply during migration,” said University of Wyoming researcher Ellen Aikens, who analyzed 19 years of drought records going back to 2001, and mule deer migration data from a shorter period to document the impacts. “In dry years, they get only 50 percent of the benefit that they get in an average year,” she said.
The findings were published June 11 in Global Change Biology.