Fight for mule deer

 

In my 70 years in Wyoming, I have witnessed a steady decline in mule deer numbers (“The record-breaking journey of Deer 255,” HCN, 8/20/18). Fields that once hosted hundreds of deer now have dozens. The proliferation of “town deer” is not a healthy sign, either. These deer have lost their ability to migrate, so they don’t benefit from migration’s diverse nutrition. You don’t have to be a veterinarian to see that their health is not optimal. Mule deer stick to their migration paths more than other big game and are very sensitive to disruptions in their home ranges. This makes them especially vulnerable to energy development in crucial habitat. Pinedale, Wyoming, has documented a 40 percent decline in its local herd, even as hunting brings $300 million a year to the state.

Without habitat protections, mule deer will diminish, along with hunting opportunities and revenue. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Land Management has no enforceable measures in place to prevent oil and gas interests from fragmenting and disrupting narrow migration corridors and winter range. Wyoming should not allow itself to be treated like a second-class energy colony. We are, in fact, one of the last places on the planet that has an intact ecosystem, and it is up to all of us to let the BLM know that we will not let this be taken away without a fight.

Nic Patrick
Cody, Wyoming

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