Editor's note: The following information was provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Service Center in Long Prairie.

With the temperatures dropping and snow flurries in the air, we can’t help but think that “Old Man Winter” is right around the corner.

Winter can be a crucial time of the year for wildlife survival. Food sources are often limited and exposure to the wind and elements can take it’s toll. It is through these winter months that wildlife rely on thermal cover. Winter thermal cover provides protection from wind, severe cold and snow and rain events.

Efficient thermal cover consists of overhead protection with an understory dense enough to provide protection from wind. Sufficient thermal cover is often where wildlife find sanctuary to survive some of the worst storms that winter has to offer. Sufficient thermal cover can range from a stand of conifers to patches of shrub brush to dense patches of cattails along a wetland edges.

When designing thermal cover stands for wildlife it is important to keep in mind what the targeted species of management is. Different species of wildlife may require a diversity of winter thermal cover. If you are interested in learning more about winter thermal cover, having your property assessed for proper winter thermal cover or enhancing the winter thermal cover on your property, stop by your local USDA service center at: 607 9th street NE Long Prairie or call 320-732-6618.