Deer Seasons Likely to Remain Conservative

Deer Seasons Likely to Remain Conservative

GREEN RIVER — Mule deer numbers in the Green River Region, much like in the entire range of this species, have declined over the long-term. This is due primarily to lower average annual fawn production and recruitment. However, some populations in the Region have shown positive growth since the 2010-11 winter. Seasons in these more productive areas (the eastern and western end of the region) are being liberalized or maintained as deer numbers increase. Deer in the central portion of the region continue to decline due to poorer habitat conditions and impacts of long-term, severe drought. Barring a return to 1940-1960s era habitat conditions and significantly more precipitation, seasons will likely continue to be conservative and opportunities will continue to decline if deer numbers keep trending downward in these areas. Mule deer seasons will remain very conservative in the drier portions of the Region, including Hunt Area 131 in the Sublette herd, and the South Rock Springs hunt areas in 2016.

The Baggs mule deer herd is made up of three Hunt Areas, (82, 84 and 100). Hunt Area 84 is hunted under a very conservative limited quota season due to access concerns. Hunt Area 82 is one of the most heavily hunted deer areas in the state and is very popular with both residents and non-residents. Harvest in this area vies for the top spot on an annual basis. This portion of the herd tends to be robust, and recent improvements in fawn production and recruitment have increased deer numbers in this area, to the point we are now significantly above objective and require additional doe harvest. This population remains in an upward trend. Fawn ratios were good the last three years, as was recruitment and survival, and deer numbers have shown a noticeable increase.

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Hunt Area 131 is a low density deer area associated with the much larger Sublette herd unit to the north. Except during winter, this area remains a low density hunt area, with low numbers of 9 resident deer. Only in the agricultural fields near Farson-Eden, and the west end of this hunt area along the Green River, are deer densities somewhat satisfactory to the hunting public.

The South Rock Springs herd unit (Hunt Areas 101 and 102) is managed under a conservative limited quota scenario and is a favorite (but exceedingly difficult to draw) of both residents and non-residents. Over time, opportunity has been reduced due to public desires for fewer hunters and an expectation this will result in large numbers of large antlered buck mule deer, which has proven to not be the case. The proposal for 2016 will be the same as in 2015, a season with significantly reduced hunter opportunity due to declining deer numbers and concerns about buck quality.

While significant losses occurred in the western 1 /3 of the region during the 2010-11 winter, mule deer numbers have recently increased due to good survival and improved fawn numbers from 2012 to 2015 in both the Uinta and southern portion of the Wyoming Range herd units. These areas include Hunt Areas 132, 133, and 168 (Uinta herd unit) and Hunt Areas 134 and 135 (Green River portion of the Wyoming Range herd).

Due to a recent increase in observed white-tailed deer in most Regional hunt areas, the harvest of any white-tailed deer will be permitted during general seasons.