Utah’s wildlife impacted by historic snowfall

Apr 20, 2023, 3:00 PM

As summer approaches and gardens begin blooming, Utah's wildlife is soon to follow. Dax Mangus, Big...

In the winter, deer visit lower elevation areas where food is a little easier to find. (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

(Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

SALT LAKE CITY  —  Utah’s record-breaking snowfall brought changes to Utah’s wildlife.

The deep snow in northern Utah has been hard for the mule deer and different grouse and waterfowl species. However, the moisture has been a positive thing for Utah’s fish and for southern Utah’s deer.

Negative effects of Utah’s historic snowfall

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Public Information Officer Faith Heaton Jolley said the depth of this year’s snow made food scarce for mule deer in northern Utah.

“Currently we are projecting a 70% loss of adult deer and a 90% fawn loss in one [hunting area] unit of northern Utah,” Jolley said.. 

The DWR implemented emergency feeding this winter in a number of counties in northern Utah. Also with that, there were restrictions for shed antler hunting to reduce the number of disturbances for the deer. In addition, the DWR has extended some closures of wildlife management areas until the end of April, according to Jolley.

Jolley also said that the DWR has received reports from their biologists that the mating season for upland game, such as grouse and pheasants, has been delayed. “Typically, late March and early April the sage grouse species will be out doing their normal mating.” said Jolley, “but this year, due to the snowpack that has been delayed.”

She added that that is too early to know if that will affect their population this year, but that is something they have been concerned about and watching. 

Water is helping some of Utah’s wildlife

“Deer herds are doing really well in southern Utah,” said Jolley. “We are seeing a higher survival rate than normal.”

With the moisture that the southern part of the state has received, plants and vegetation are greening up earlier. The melting snow has aided in giving the deer more water and green food to eat. 

Additionally, the more water, the better for Utah’s fish and other aquatic species. Sometimes, when we have flooding and landslides it can muddy up the waters and make it hard for the fish, but this year they haven’t had any reports of that, according to Jolley. Things are looking much better for the fish in our state as we come out of the drought.

Overall, this winter has had both positive and negative effects on the wildlife around Utah. As time goes on we will better know how to help out those species that are waning and adjust to the needs of those animals. 

Related Reading:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


lake powell shown, invasive fish causing issues...

Adam Small

Water managers releasing cold water from Lake Powell to fight invasive fish

The Bureau of Reclamation has started strategic cold water releases from Lake Powell to fight invasive fish further down the Colorado River.

9 hours ago

Utahns are taking to the hills to find cooler temps. However, DWR is sending a message: steer clear...

Andy Cupp

When it comes to mountain goats, DWR says keep your distance

Utahns are taking to the hills to find cooler temps. However, DWR is sending a message: steer clear of the mountain goats.

8 days ago

Wildlife Center of Salt Lake...

Josuee Sanchez, Reporter

Wildlife Center of Salt Lake looking to expand

Struggling to keep up with the intake of animals, the Wildlife Center of Salt Lake is looking to expand.

9 days ago

A cougar is pictured. A new lawsuit says Utah's law that allows yearlong cougar hunting could lead ...

Adam Small

Wildlife officials recommend no changes to Utah cougar hunting law

According to Utah wildlife officials, the cougar hunting law that went into effect last year has resulted in the same number of animals being hunted.

11 days ago

(FILE) - A coyote standing on the road in Sugar House Park in January, 2022....

Michael Houck, KSLTV.com

Reports of multiple pet deaths in Avenues neighborhood, prompts coyote warning

The Salt Lake County Animal Service warns people to keep indoor pets inside, after recent coyote sightings.

12 days ago

FILE: As the temperatures warm into triple-digits, wildlife officials remind those who feed humming...

Simone Seikaly

Care for your hummingbird feeder as temperatures rise

The hummingbird feeders are out and filled with sugar water, now what? A Utah wildlife expert shares how often the feeder should be cleaned.

14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

A young woman smiles while reading the menu at a lakeside restaurant, enjoying the panoramic view o...

Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau

The best restaurants to try in Bear Lake

Save this guide to the best restaurants in Bear Lake when you need to find a place to dine during your next visit.

Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept....

Health Utah

Sustainable weight loss: the science-backed way to achieve it

Learn more about Debbie's weight loss journey with Health Utah, who have a unique weight loss philosophy for success.

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...


Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

Utah’s wildlife impacted by historic snowfall