Minnesota's brutally cold winter has been a challenge for some animals trying to tough out the snowy and icy conditions. Birds that rely on open water in particular have been struggling this season, according to Phil Jenni, director of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota.
"This year, what's happened is a lot of the areas that are normally open are icing over. That's forcing those birds off of the water, and then once they get out over land, their food source is gone," Jenni told MPR News. "That's when they start to have trouble. They start to really starve to death, land in fields. And a lot of times those are the animals we're getting in right now."
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Without open water, the birds are also more vulnerable to attack from raptors and other predators, and more likely to fly into power lines and other obstacles. A temporary shutdown of the Xcel Energy nuclear plant in Monticello that let the Mississippi River freeze over didn't make it any easier this year.
Mammals are better equipped than birds for the cold, said Jenni. Moose may actually do better this year because the cold may curb parasites that have been thought to have contributed to the declining population in Minnesota.
Jenni joins The Daily Circuit to take listener questions regarding wildlife and discuss the latest rehabilitation efforts in the state.
Do you have questions about wildlife rehabilitation? Post it in the comments below.