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Based on estimates by the Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW), the mule deer population on the Uncompahgre Plateau declined by approximately 50% between the early 1980’s and the late 1990’s with concomitant declines in December fawn/doe ratios and buck harvest (Figures 1 & 2). In response to concerns from local CDOW managers/ biologists and the public, the CDOW began studying mule deer on the Uncompahgre Plateau in 1997 to better model the deer population and understand the reasons for the decline. CDOW deer studies on the Uncompahgre Plateau have since indicated the most recent decline in the deer population has been primarily due to low fawn survival prior to six months of age. Inadequate nutrition of adult females during winter is believed to be a major factor contributing to the subsequent poor early survival of fawns. The decline in mule deer on the Plateau is believed to be indicative of a much larger problem related to overall ecosystem health.  However, in recent years the population has increased slightly due to changes in harvest management (limited licenses since 1999) and mild winter conditions.

Fig. 1. Post-hunt deer population estimates and observed, December fawn:doe ratios on the Uncompahgre Plateau 1980-2005 (D19, GMUs 61 & 62, CDOW data).

Fig 2. Post-hunt deer population estimates, fitted population trendline, and buck harvest data for the Uncompahgre Plateau 1980-2005 (D19, GMUs 61&62, CDOW data).

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