Oh deer, more discussion

RBC I Another meeting to discuss the declining mule deer herd was held by the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife (CDPW) Aug. 15, to focus on a few of the many factors contributing to the decline in mule deer numbers.“It was very productive, well attended and everyone asked great questions,” CDPW area manager Bill de Vergie said of the meeting, which drew approximately 100 people to the Fairfield Center in Meeker.
Weather, habitat, urban/energy development, predators, roadkill, harassment, disease and competition with elk for food have all contributed to the steady decline of the largest deer herd in the state.
The CDPW held a meeting in June of this year to inform the public of what the CDPW is doing to improve mule deer habitat and predator control was discussed at the end of that meeting. The most recent meeting reviewed three studies relating to habitat and predator control, including a study presented by Mark Hurley of Idaho Fish and Game covering eight study units in Idaho.
In summary, weather is the most important factor to survival rates and predator control had minimal effects on the deer population, which was not what locals wanted to hear. In 2006, the legislature repealed a law allowing government agencies to place bounties on coyotes but bounties can still exist and long-time local Bryce Purkey would like to bring them back.
Purkey said  “We need to get politics out of this and help you guys get our deer back.”
Meeker General Mercantile is collecting funds to pay a bounty on coyotes and anyone can donate to the cause. Rio Blanco County sheriff Si Woodruff would also like to gather “a significant amount of money, $200,000 to $300,000,” to help the CDPW with habitat and predator control.
“We need to become a team and work together to improve habitat on a larger scale,” Woodruff said. “We need to start doing something instead of studying things to death.”
According to Woodruff, Rio Blanco County commissioners, the Bureau of Land Management and the Robertson and Hill ranches near Rangely are working together and let fires burn to increase habitat.
“The BLM has been a fantastic neighbor and cooperator and fire is the cheapest way to create habitat,” Woodruff said.
De Vergie said he would like to see a working group put together, with the CDPW offering technical support to the group.
De Vergie said they would continue to work on habitat, continue to treat public and private property and keep working on other pieces, such as roadkill, poaching and adjusting license sales in response “to what we saw last winter.”