Elk, deer and antelope are reported in good condition in most parts of northern Nevada despite extensive snowfalls and cold weather in December, state wildlife biologists.
Snow has been melting recently off many south-facing slopes and exposing forage for mule deer, said Larry Gilbertson, the Nevada Department of Wildlife's eastern regional supervising biologist in Elko.
Some problems exist in areas north of Interstate 80 but deer are generally in good shape across most the rest of eastern Nevada, Gilbertson said.
A die-off is still possible if a big storm hits and colder temperatures return, said Ken Gray, an eastern region area biologist. In those situations, where forage is covered over and temperatures drop, animals exert a lot of energy just to survive, he said.
Other species, such as antelope, have been affected by the strength of the storms, and already have moved down into lower elevations, the biologists said. About 600 antelope have moved into wintering areas east of Elko, but have not yet moved into the urban areas.
Other species, such as chukar, have also suffered from deep snow, but now appear to be getting some relief with the recent thaw, NDOW said.
Aerial elk surveys conducted this month showed some green-up in the Diamond and Newark ranges in central Nevada.
While elk do not seem to have been affected by the cold or snow in most parts of the state, some have moved into agricultural areas in isolated portions of extreme northern Nevada as a result of harsh winter conditions, NDOW said.
The state will conduct a comprehensive spring mule deer survey in March to assess winter fawn mortality and to provide biologists with information to estimate mule deer populations.
Biologists will recommend tag quotas in April. Those recommendations will be reviewed by county advisory boards to manage wildlife, and final quotas will be established by the Board of Wildlife Commissioners during their May 14-15 meeting in Reno.
On the Net:
Nevada Division of Wildlife: www.ndow.org.