The Wenatchee World

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Sage Hills: Critical winter range

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The Sage Hills to the west of Wenatchee are important year round. In the spring, summer and fall, these sunny slopes provide easily accessible trails for hiking, biking and exploring. Now, as we transition to winter, the Sage Hills become a vital refuge for mule deer. It’s time for us to make room in the foothills for wildlife and shift our recreation to the many alternative areas we have available.

When winter comes to the high country, mule deer come down to the lower elevations of the foothills in search of winter forage. The bitterbrush that speckles our foothills is their preferred, high-calorie food. Residents and wildlife managers have seen groups of over 50 deer spending the winter in the canyons and draws of the Sage Hills. Many of these deer wander into the neighborhoods of Wenatchee at night to forage and return to the foothills to rest during the day. When a human or dog startles these herds, they expend precious energy fleeing — energy that may take days of foraging to recover.

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