Game and Fish Commission supports mule deer projects
by Wyoming Game & Fish
July 15, 2015
The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission voted to make significant investments in projects to benefit mule deer populations. For several years local public groups have been discussing ways to support key mule deer herds. The Commission approved funding of up to $500,000 in each of five new areas including several mule deer herds. The funding is intended to be used over five years.
"We have heard from people all across Wyoming who are concerned about mule deer populations. This is an investment in the future of this iconic species," said Wyoming Game and Fish Commission President Charles Price. "The focus of this effort is on habitat improvement and those are long-term, generational efforts, but we know that we have to continue to make this a priority."
Mule deer populations have been in decline over the last few decades in Wyoming and other western states. Recognizing the importance of trying to stop the population decline and to support mule deer herds the Wyoming Game and Fish Department launched the Mule Deer Initiative in 2007. This effort started with the Wyoming Range mule deer herd in western Wyoming. Local groups and members of the public formed a working group to develop plans for how to improve habitat for mule deer in that herd. The Commission invested in projects that came out of the Wyoming Range working group and subsequently on projects from a working group for the Platte Valley mule deer herd.
"In each project developed at the local level we have seen great partnerships. Funding from the Game and Fish Commission has been matched by many groups so we can start to make a positive impact on the landscape. This will build on those efforts and focus on mule deer herds all across Wyoming," said Wyoming Game and Fish Director Scott Talbott.
The commitment from the Commission is to fund projects that will be developed by the public and local Game and Fish personnel. The Commission will review and approve funding for each project individually. This investment would go to new mule deer herds involved in local initiatives. These include the Baggs, Sheep Mountain, Upper Powder River, Owl Creek/Meeteetse, South Wind River/Sweetwater and Bates Hole/Hat Six herds.
Most members of the public as well as Game Fish biologists realize that investment in projects helping fawns survive their first year of life is the primary way Game and Fish and its partners can address mule deer declines for the long-term. Enhancing and restoring habitat is seen as the most effective way to influence mule deer populations for future generations.
Information about the Wyoming Mule Deer Initiative is available at: http://wgfd.wyo.gov/. The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission met in Cody this weekend. The vote on the mule deer funding was unanimous.