Climate change: Spring is starting too early for deer

By The Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research

Roe deer fawns have been marked with ear tags in Switzerland since 1971. This practice should continue, in order to identify changes in deer populations that are due to climate change.
Image: Maik Rehnus, WSL

Plants are sprouting earlier and earlier due to climate change, but for roe deer, the timing of fawning is advancing more slowly. This results in changes to the food supply during critical periods of the fawns’ growth. Deer populations at lower altitudes are particularly affected, according to a study by the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL.

Wild animals tend to reproduce when environmental conditions are best for rearing young. Roe deer, therefore, give birth early in the growing season, when nursing does can find young, tender, easily digestible plants with a high energy and protein content. As climate change causes plants to start growing earlier and earlier on the Swiss Plateau, the period of time with the best food supply overlaps less and less with the timing of fawning. These findings are reported in the study led by Kurt Bollmann, a wildlife biologist at the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL.

Read more here [in German]:

Read the study in Ecosphere here: