Three dead raccoons at the bottom of our driveway in this winter of extremes. All appeared emaciated and probably starved to death.

A number of dead deer and other animals have been found in other parts of the county — all dead from lack of food in this winter of extremes.

Experts call such deaths “winterkill,” an appropriate term for deaths of wild animals during extreme cold conditions.  In 1989, more than 5,000 elk died of starvation at Yosemite National Park when a brutal winter struck after a prolonged period of mild seasons.

Wild animals populations increased dramatically in Southwestern Virginia during the mild winters of recent years and the bitter winter of 2009-2010 has taken its toll.