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RBC | The management plan for the White River mule deer herd is due for an update in 2019 and Colorado Parks and Wildlife managers say the public’s input will be critical in light of significant changes that have affected the herd over the past two decades.
The White River mule deer herd —one of the two largest in Colorado —inhabits game management units 11, 12, 13, 22, 23, 24, 131, 211 and 231 in Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt counties.
A 30-day public comment form is available on the CPW website at https://www.research.net/r/WhiteRiverDeer. In addition, the public can provide input directly to agency personnel at a public meeting, 6 p.m., Jan. 23 in the conference room of the Mountain Valley Bank, 400 Main St., in Meeker.
“A lot has changed since 1995 when we approved the current plan,” said Area Wildlife Manager Bill de Vergie of Meeker. “Chronic Wasting Disease is affecting this herd and we’re dealing with significant loss and fragmentation of habitat. This herd has also gone through severe winters, drought and fires. In addition, there is far more outdoor recreation occurring today, and more people means more traffic leading to more dead deer and an increased danger to motorists. Predation is definitely a consideration as is continuing oil and gas exploration. The next plan will need to account for all these dynamics.”
The herd’s population objective and male to female ratio are outdated as well, said de Vergie.
CPW generally updates herd management plans approximately every 10 years. Recently, the agency has increased efforts to update older plans—like the White River Herd Management Plan—to bring them current.
“This mule deer herd is one of the most studied herds in North America,” said de Vergie. “While research has been ongoing over the past decade, we’ve put off revising the plan. Now with new data, we can update this plan and implement effective conservation efforts for the next decade.”
Because herd management objectives affect everyone, including sportsmen, business owners and residents, the public’s participation is encouraged when plans are updated.
“We use science and biology to manage wildlife responsibly, but the public’s say is a big part of making management decisions,” said de Vergie. “This is not only for hunters. Especially in smaller towns across this region, local economies can be significantly affected by herd management decisions. It’s up to everyone to become involved in the process so that we can make decisions the public supports.”
By REED KELLEY | reed@HT1885.com