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Thread: Saving 8,000 starving deer in Colorado

  1. #1
    Administrator D Winkler's Avatar
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    Saving 8,000 starving deer in Colorado

    Wildlife officials and volunteers are launching the biggest feeding operation in 24 years to save 8,000 mule deer from starving in 4-foot snowdrifts near Gunnison.

    "The snow is deep and it's heavy, so it's taking an extraordinary amount of energy for the deer to get to food," said Joe Lewandowski, a spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

    "There's also been brutally cold temperatures. It was down to 26 degrees below (Wednesday) morning," he added.

    The deer are in good shape because snow didn't blanket the region until three weeks ago. But wildlife experts fear the long-term impact as the Gunnison Basin reaches 143 percent above the average snowpack.

    "This time of year, it just stays cold from now through February with brutal temperatures and lots of snow," he said.

    "You could lose 30 percent to 50 percent of the herd in a really bad winter," he said. "If that happens, it's a devastating loss, and it's really hard for the herd to recover."

    It would also be a hard hit for the Gunnison economy, which is increasingly dependent on hunters coming to stalk the region's renowned deer herds.

    Now, wildlife officials are gearing up for the biggest deer-feeding operation since 1984, Lewandowski said.

    They are asking for hundreds of volunteers to help distribute the cookie-size feed wafers for deer, bighorn sheep and pronghorn. Alternately, volunteers will pitch hay to elk, which can be aggressive, to keep them away from deer-feeding sites.

    "We had 300 people show up in Gunnison (Tuesday) night at a volunteer meeting," Lewandowski said. "But this could go on six to eight weeks, so we're going to need a lot of people."

    DOW officials need volunteers with trailers and an army of snow-worthy vehicles, especially snowmobiles, snowcats and four-wheel-drive vehicles.

    Volunteers also are sought who can travel through deep snow on cross-country skis and snowshoes.

    Officials started feeding operations in recent days to get deer accustomed to humans. The plan is to crank up volunteer operations this weekend.

    Since Saturday, DOW staff have been scouting about 60 potential deer-feeding sites where herds of five to 30 deer are snowbound.

    They're also using snowcat tractors to tamp down snow paths, so snowmobilers pulling feed-laden sleds can access the areas.

    People are cautioned against feeding hay to deer because - unlike elk - they can't digest it.

    "They're browsers that survive on shrubs and sagebrush during the winter. So, people would be better off going out in their backyards and knocking snow off the sagebrush."

    Wildlife managers also are monitoring weather and snow conditions in other areas of western Colorado, including the Eagle Valley, the Aspen area, the Meeker/Craig area and the lower Yampa Valley.

    People driving across the Western Slope are cautioned to watch for wildlife along roads as deer and other critters strive to find snow-free areas.


    Saving 8,000 deer from starving : Local News : The Rocky Mountain News
    Take care of our Forests. The animals I like to kill live there.

  2. #2
    Administrator D Winkler's Avatar
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    If you go the link, there is a slideshow of the deer. The deer are almost buried in snow.
    Take care of our Forests. The animals I like to kill live there.

  3. #3
    Administrator shortbus's Avatar
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    man that's crazy!
    Hunting and Fishing...what else is there?

  4. #4
    Administrator birdman's Avatar
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    Things are beginning to look pretty bleak in this area as another foot of snow is forcasted for tonight through tommorrow.

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    Junior Member widespreadpanick's Avatar
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    todd,

    I swear you are driving the snowmobile in the slideshow. One quick question...is this baiting?

  6. #6
    Administrator birdman's Avatar
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    Not me my friend!! I don't think this effort would suit me very well. No need to develop bad habbits.
    "I don't care how or what you hunt or fish, I'm the outdoor equal opportunist"

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