State plans predator control research on Roan Plateau
Colorado wildlife managers say they are set to start a three-year study on whether killing bears and mountain lions can help boost deer populations in the northwestern part of the state, where hunting is a big part of the local economy.
According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, mule deer populations remain below objective in the state’s largest mule deer herds in the Piceance Basin. Part of a 2015 strategy to boost those numbers is predator control, which is not a popular concept with some wildlife advocates, who believe that habitat fragmentation from oil and gas development is probably a bigger factor in the long-term decline of deer herds.
Nonetheless, CPW plans to begin a three-year study in 2017 on the Roan Plateau to monitor the results of predator control on the Roan Plateau.
To learn details about the project, the public is invited to a discussion with CPW officials at the Garfield County Fairgrounds, South Hall, Tuesday, Aug. 16 at 6 p.m.
“The study will monitor if mule deer fawn survival responds positively to control of lions and bears in a relatively small area on the Roan Plateau,” said CPW researcher Chuck Anderson.
According to Anderson, the predator control study will take place in May and June, just before and during the fawn birthing period. He said all predators taken will be utilized to the fullest, including distribution of meat to people that need it, and CPW will use carcasses for education.
“We remain well below where we would like to be in terms of overall mule deer numbers,” said Northwest Regional Manager Ron Velarde. “There is no one reason and no silver bullet solution to this problem, but many in the public identified predator management as one factor that could yield positive results, and we agree.”
Velarde said Anderson’s research will help guide the agency’s future management efforts in other areas of the state where predation may be impacting mule deer populations.
CPW’s population objective for mule deer is approximately 560,000 statewide; however, the latest estimate puts the statewide population at just under 450,000. The most significant decline has occurred in the Piceance Basin; however, CPW managers note that some herds, including those in the Middle Park region, remain well above objective.
For more information about CPW’s mammal research, go to: www.cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/ResearchMammals.aspx