Fri August 12, 2011

Group Sounds Alarm to Deer, Antelope Population Declines

A new study by the National Wildlife Federation finds there have been alarming declines in mule deer and pronghorn antelope populations in Colorado and Wyoming over the past three decades. 

Researchers combed population counts from wildlife agencies over the past thirty years in an area south of Interstate 80 in Wyoming and throughout northwest Colorado as far east as Walden. 

Retired Colorado Division of Wildlife biologist John Ellenberger, who led up the study, said it’s clear that weather is still the single biggest factor in determining the health of mule deer and antelope populations.  But he said encroaching development is becoming a close second.

"We’re concerned about what is on the horizon in the way of development, whether it be oil and gas drilling, wind energy, coal," Ellenberger said.  "Anything that is going to impact large chunks of habitat."

Ellenberger said the report should serve as a call to action for federal and state land managers to place more stipulations on energy development in order to protect wildlife habitat and the area’s hunting-dependent economy. 

The National Wildlife Federation will present the study at a public meeting Friday night at seven in Craig.