Though the sight of a road kill deer may be unsavory, the information it can give wildlife biologists is extremely helpful.
"What we're looking for are different types of fat deposits on the body of the deer to help with determining the condition of the White-Tailed deer in the severe winter we had," said Joshua Martinez, a Wildlife Biologist with the Wisconsin DNR.
Martinez works with the Florence County DNR and is responsible for gathering 20 carcasses throughout Florence and Forest Counties documenting his findings. It's part of a push by the Wisconsin DNR to collect data that reflects and validates the conditions deer faced this winter.
"We're looking at the fat content of the heart, the sternum, the rump and the kidneys, and we're also looking at the bone marrow condition," Martinez said.
That information gets sent to Madison to compare findings with other counties and to make mortality predictions for this year.
"The late winter-early spring is the hardest time on a White-Tailed deer," Martinez said. "We're looking at the deer down to the end of their fat reserves; does are trying to carry their fetus' until they can birth a fawn."
And in fact, the doe Martinez inspected on Monday afternoon was a mother to three fawns that consequently died. The winter was ruthless for deer, and area residents say the stress was evident.
"In my travels around the UP and northeastern Wisconsin, a lot of the deer are collecting at the roadsides, not wanting to get off the roads, looking for that barren food," said Florence County resident, John Johnson. "A deer hit me three days ago just coming off of a timber sale. He ran up over the shoulder of the road,; I was in the other lane trying to get away from it and it ran right into the side of my truck. It almost looked like it was in a bit of a stupor."
If you find a deer carcass in Florence County, the DNR is asking that you call them at (715) 528-4400 ext. 119 to reach Josh Martinez. The Florence County Sheriff's Department can also be contacted regarding a road kill deer to be tested at (715) 528-3346.