Winter home to once-legendary populations of mule deer, the Pinedale Anticline in southwestern Wyoming also hosts one of the nation's largest producing natural gas fields. Photo courtesy of Dwayne Meadows.
Following the release of a report documenting steep declines in mule deer numbers on federal public lands in Wyoming’s Upper Green River Basin, the TRCP is urging action to conserve important seasonal habitat and halt the dramatic decline of the prized game species.
Winter home to once-legendary populations of mule deer, the Pinedale Anticline in southwestern Wyoming also hosts one of the nation’s largest producing natural gas fields. The report, prepared by Western Ecosystems Technology Inc., documents a 60-percent decline in mule deer since 2000, when energy development on the anticline began in earnest. Thresholds previously established by the Bureau of Land Management were exceeded as a revised Record of Decision drastically increased the number of wells allowed, permitting more drilling within mule deer crucial winter range.“
Less than two years ago, biologists documented losses of 30 percent and changes in mule deer distribution patterns as a result of drilling operations in Pinedale,” said Dr. Rollin Sparrowe, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist and TRCP board member who lives near the project site. “Thousands of additional wells will be drilled in the anticline over the next decade. What further losses should we expect if corrective action is not taken at this critical moment?”
At a recent meeting held in Pinedale to discuss the report, the BLM resisted making explicit commitments to address the mule deer declines, instead promising to consider action and respond to public concerns later.
“Sportsmen frankly are outraged that these mule deer losses are not seen by the federal government as ‘severe’ and warranting specific reparative actions,” said Steve Belinda, TRCP director of energy programs and a former BLM biologist. “This lackadaisical response is, in a word, unacceptable, and it continues a string of broken promises by the BLM that were meant to assure responsible management of these public resources.”
Read the report from Western Ecosystems Technology Inc.The TRCP supports responsible energy development balanced with natural resource management to assure sustainable fish and wildlife populations for this and future generations of Americans.
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