Idaho Fish and Game - Windows to Wildlife


Surviving Winter's Challenges

by Edna Vizgirdas Forest Botanist, Boise National Forest  

Winter is the most stressful time of year for Idaho’s wildlife. Animals have three basic strategies for survival in winter -- they can hibernate, migrate, or tough it out. The key hardships are lack of food and cold temperatures; however, lack of food is generally considered to be the primary factor that causes many species to migrate or hibernate.

But don’t let the reduced activity fool you! There’s actually plenty going on in the woods – both above and below the snow. Many animals remain active since they have adapted to winter’s challenges. In this article, we’ll focus on some of the adaptations that mammals in Idaho have to cope with winter’s harsh conditions.