Hoping to double the local mule deer population, Colorado Parks & Wildlife plans to increase the mountain lion harvest near Salida.
With mule deer populations across their range decreasing due to a variety of reasons, Colorado Parks & Wildlife officials wish to improve the herd around the Salida area by increasing the mountain lion harvest.
According to The Gazette, this proposal is part of a five-year study that would raise the mountain lion harvest quota in the Salida units from 24 cats to 35. The goal is to double the area’s deer population of an estimated 10,000 animals.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife senior biologist Brian Dreher maintains mountain lions are the reason behind the high mule deer mortality in this region.
“We see mountain lion predation as the largest identifiable cause of mortality,” Dreher said. “If habitat was a limiting factor, we would expect to see high rates of malnutrition.”
From 2008 to 2012, Dreher continued, “we didn’t have any fawn mortality from malnutrition.”
Invariably, groups such as the Humane Society and the Sierra Club disagree with this assessment. The Humane Society in particular argues that since the public hearing on the proposal will be held in Wary, Colorado, far from Denver or another more-populated setting, a majority of stakeholders will not be able to participate.
Still, Dreher claims that this proposal is in line with 2014’s Colorado West Slope Mule Deer Strategy which was adopted with “extensive” public input with a goal of raising the state’s overall mule deer population from 300,000 to 400,000.