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Icy Weather, Temp Changes Shouldn’t Hurt Most Wildlife

A male emerald ash borer
USDA Agricultural Research Service
Emerald Ash Borer

This winter’s icy weather has been harder on people than on Missouri’s wildlife, according to officials with the Missouri Department of Conservation. But unfortunately, the cold weather won't be able to slow the spread of certain invasive species like the Emerald Ash Borer or Thousand Cankers Disease.

Matt Bowyer, the Wildlife Regional Supervisor for the Southeast Regional Department of Conservation, said the drastic temperature changes have an effect of wildlife, such as deer and quail.

“As long as they can continue to find food sources they’re able to survive these cold temperatures pretty well,” Bowyer said. “The biggest thing is that when we get heavy ice storms or when we get significant amounts of snow to stay on for a long period of time that can stress the animals out quite a bit, but as long as they’re able to find food, they can survive.”

Bowyer suggests creating habitat during the summer and fall will help provide the food and cover wildlife need to make it through a winter. For example, building forts out of branches or bushels will provide birds and other wildlife a warm and stable place to hibernate.

Rob Lawrence, the MDC’s Forest Entomologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said, “First thing to think about is that insects and mites and ticks and so forth, they go into a type of hibernation during the winter and their bodies can produce a type of antifreeze essentially that helps them survive really cold temperatures.”

Insects naturally keep themselves warm during these frigid temperatures, just like wildlife.

For more information regarding insect diseases visit www.mdc.mo.gov/thousand-cankers or www.eab.missouri.edu.

This story was corrected on February 18.

Rachel Reishman was an intern reporter for KRCU in 2014.
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