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Layer: Deer Wintering Areas (ID: 171)

Name: Deer Wintering Areas

Display Field: DWAID

Type: Feature Layer

Geometry Type: esriGeometryPolygon

Description: Deer winter habitat is critical to the long term survival of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in Vermont. Being near the northern extreme of the white-tailed deer's range, functional winter habitats are essential to maintain stable populations of deer in many years when and where yarding conditions occur. Consequently, deer wintering areas are considered under Act 250 and other local, state, and federal regulations that require the protection of important wildlife habitats. DWAs are generally characterized by rather dense softwood (conifer) cover, such as hemlock, balsam fir, red spruce, or white pine. Occasionally DWAs are found in mixed forest with a strong softwood component or even on found west facing hardwood slopes in conjunction with softwood cover. In this mapping exercise no minimum area is defined, however, most areas less than 20 acres were not delineated, nor were areas above 2,000 feet elevation (approximate). In 2008, the boundaries of deer winter areas where refined using black and white leaf-off 1:5,000 scale orthophotography (1990-1999) and was cross referenced with 1:24,000 scale 2003 NAIP (color, leaf-on) imagery to better delineate fields and open wetlands. Some of the areas were also marked as 'not likely wintering area' based on not having softwood characteristic. The areas were reviewed by VFWD District Biologists in 2009 to 2010 for their concurrence from their knowledge of the site. The 2008 mapping project did not involve any field work, but was based on aerial photography. Potential areas were identified, but they have not been included in this map layer because they have not been field verified. The original DWA mapping was done in the 1970s and early 1980s and was based on field visits and interviews with wildlife biologists and game wardens. The DWA were mapped on mylar overlays on topographic maps and based on small scale aerial photos.

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