Development Threatens Deer

In January, Western Ecosystems Technology,
Inc. released a report
prepared in 2007 for the Bureau of Land Management, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department,
and Questar Exploration and Production – documenting mule deer trends in Wyoming’s
Pinedale Anticline, an area undergoing natural gas development. Whitetails have not
been affected.

The report focused on the Mesa mule deer population, the population within the larger
Sublette herd that is in close proximity to natural gas development operations. The
researchers found a 30 percent decline in the Mesa population during a seven-year
period (2001-2007) of intensive energy development.

Energy development at the Mesa site resulted in 1,520 acres of direct habitat loss,
primarily at well pad sites, which accounted for less than 3 percent of the Mesa area.
Indirect habitat loss, however, extended much farther. The model-averaged estimate
predicted that mule deer avoided energy development sites by 2.6 to 7.5 km, depending
on the level of human activity.

In the September issue of Deer & Deer Hunting, field editor Les Davenport
will investigate another trend concerning Western deer. Be sure not to miss this article,
“Save a Mulie, Shoot a Whitetail,” on sale at newsstands beginning later this summer.

— Daniel E. Schmidt