CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Hurricane Sandy dumped 2 to 3 feet of wet, heavy snow on West Virginia's high mountains earlier this week, but wildlife officials don't believe the blizzard will have any lasting effect on wildlife.
"I think the impact will be minimal, especially if the snow doesn't stay very long," said Paul Johansen, assistant wildlife chief for the state Division of Natural Resources.
"It takes a while for that much snow to melt, but with acorns relatively abundant this fall, deer and turkeys and other animals went into the storm in pretty good physical condition. They should be fine for a few days while the snow melts."
Johansen said creatures that live in the state's highest elevations are accustomed to weather extremes.
"They're well adapted to conditions in the mid-Atlantic region, and those conditions certainly include high winds and snowstorms," he explained.
Hunters aren't nearly as well adapted to foul weather as their quarry. Johansen expects the snowstorm to affect both the deer archery harvest and the fall turkey harvest.
"The biggest impact will be on the fall turkey season," he said. "Hunters won't be able to get back into the woods to hunt. In those [mountain] counties, the opportunity to kill a turkey is proportional to the miles you're able to put under your feet. That kind of far-ranging search becomes really difficult when there's a lot of snow on the ground."
Most of the counties currently open to turkey hunting are the so-called "traditional" counties, and most of them lie squarely where the highest snows fell.
"If it had been a little bit of snow, it might have helped hunters locate birds," Johansen said. "But 2 feet of snow is a bit much. The storm definitely will have a negative impact on this fall's turkey harvest."
Snowfall also affected trappers who were hoping to kick off their winters by putting out a few sets during Saturday's trapping-season opening day.