Summit to address declining mule deer population

Keywords: Wildlife,
The mule deer population has declined around the state, and Southwest Colorado is no exception. Enlargephoto

Durango Herald file photo

The mule deer population has declined around the state, and Southwest Colorado is no exception.

The state’s declining mule deer population, and a strategy to combat the problem, will be addressed at a summit Aug. 9 in Glenwood Springs.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife, in coordination with The Keystone Center, is hosting the West Slope Mule Deer Summit. The agenda includes presentation of a draft of the West Slope Mule Deer Strategy slated to be released in early August.

The event is free to the public.

The summit is in response to recent mule deer population declines across the Western U.S. and, specifically, several areas on the Western Slope.

The Southwest Colorado mule deer population has declined an estimated 10 to 20 percent in the last couple of decades, said Joe Lewandowski, Durango-based spokesman for Parks and Wildlife. And the last five or six years the decline has been more noticeable, he said.

The estimates are made via overflights into areas with large populations. Declines might be caused by predators, highway deaths, climate and more, Lewandowski said.

“While we know a lot about how deer behave, there are a lot of questions that still need to be answered,” he said.

Parks and Wildlife and The Keystone Center have held seven public meetings this year, five on the Western Slope and two on Colorado’s Front Range. A meeting was held in late April in Durango.

The West Slope Mule Deer Strategy will serve as a guide to future Parks and Wildlife efforts to increase mule deer populations in Western Colorado.

“The declining mule deer population concerns our agency and many stakeholders across the state,” said Chad Bishop, Parks and Wildlife’s wildlife and natural resources assistant director. “The West Slope Mule Deer Summit is intended to bring people together to identify shared strategies that ensure one of Colorado’s most cherished species remains abundant for future generations.”

Register online at http://keystone.org/muledeerstatesummit to attend or be notified when the draft Colorado West Slope Mule Deer Strategy is available. For more information on Colorado’s Mule Deer Story, visit http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/CO-MuleDeerStory.aspx.