Vermont's Deer Wintering Area Mapping - Updated and Improved

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Vermont's deer wintering areas are crucial to the survival of deer, especially during extended cold weather and deep snow. Knowing the location of these areas is essential in planning for their conservation and management.

"The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is pleased to announce that it has updated and improved the mapping of deer winter areas for the entire state using sophisticated Geographic Information System (GIS) technology and aerial photography," said Everett Marshall, the department's database biologist.

Deer wintering areas make up nearly nine percent of Vermont and provide critical habitat for the survival of white-tailed deer, which are near the northern edge of their range. Deer have adapted to deep snow and cold conditions by seeking areas of dense softwood cover, such as hemlock, balsam fir, red spruce, and white pine. The tree canopy in these areas limits snow depths, making movement easier and providing protection from cold winds.

Vermont's original deer wintering area mapping was completed in the 1970s and early 1980s and was based on aerial photography and field visits by state wildlife biologists. The deer wintering areas were drawn on topographic maps and based on small scale aerial photos.

The enhanced scale of the aerial photos and GIS' ability to overlay mapped data have greatly improved the quality and accuracy of the mapping. For instance, the maps no longer include non-forested habitats and address the effects of residential development.

"These new maps will aid private landowners and public land managers in the maintenance and management of this critical habitat and assist towns in their planning and zoning efforts," added Marshall.

The deer wintering area maps are available from Vermont Center for Geographic Information (http://www.vcgi.org) as a GIS layer, or they can be viewed online through the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Atlas (http://maps.anr.state.vt.us/ANRA) Maps for specific areas can also be printed out by a Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department District Office.