Despite its stark beauty, winter is the season of death. Exhausted by the autumn rut, many aging bulls, stags and bucks will succumb to the cold and snow. Yearlings, too small to navigate the deep snows, are a favorite target of predators and even healthy adults, naturally equipped for northern latitudes, may not survive blizzards or prolonged, severe cold.
Of course, nature's economy assures that this carnage will not be wasted. Wolves, coyotes, fox, eagles, magpies, ravens and a variety of small carnivores feast on the carrion, assuring their own survival through the lean, winter months. And when the thaw finally arrives, the remnants will be recycled by mice, shrews, insects, worms, fungi and bacteria.
While survival is the focus of most winter wildlife, some have other plans. Great horned owls, tree squirrels and cottontails begin their breeding cycle during the latter half of winter and will soon have young in the nest. Like all seasons, winter is a balance of natural forces and, while death may have the upper hand, life endures.