Wintering Wildlife in Okanogan Country


Being Mindful of Our Over-Wintering Species

All Photos Courtesy of Karen Moore

Winter Recreation is Open!

While we are out enjoying and exploring one of the most beautiful seasons in Okanogan Country, here are a few tips on how to protect our wintering wildlife - keeping them safe & happy this season, too!

"Wintering wildlife are dependent on fat reserves they accumulated during the summer times of plenty, plus what food they can find during the winter months. Repeated pressure during the winter will cause the wildlife to increase their use of reserves, while their daily intake may not be enough to get them through the winter months.

An example - mule deer breeding season begins in late October and continues through early December. The bucks literally wear themselves out mating and defending their territories & harems. Thus they become very vulnerable during the winter months. Fawns may not make it through a particularly hard winter especially if the snow is deep, plus they have to compete with adult does & bucks for forage. Recreationists should not take dogs out with them or if they do - keep the dogs under strict control. It is illegal to allow dogs to chase deer.

Studies have shown that cross-country skiers cause a greater increase in deer heart rates (assuming increased heart rate is a proxy to increased alarm/alertness) than do snowmobiles (Yes, I could not believe this myself, but that is what the peer reviewed literature says). Cross-country skiers and snowshoe enthusiasts should stick to established trails and avoid trekking cross country through deer winter range. Please, do not attempt to follow or chase deer.

All wintertime recreationists at lower elevations, i.e., deer (big game) winter range, should use established routes and avoid going off the routes - potentially unnecessarily disturbing wintering wildlife."

— Dale Swedberg | Local Naturalist and Retired Manager of the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area

As you venture out this winter to enjoy the great outdoors, be mindful that these areas are home to many species of wildlife that over-winter here. Please minimize noise and help keep our wildlife safe and secure. 

Our wildlife & their advocate friends THANK YOU!

Free Winter Recreation Map!

Okanogan Country has an incredible number of winter recreation opportunities. Order a FREE Winter Recreation map and find your winter adventure in Okanogan Country today!