Volunteers Needed For Deer Mortality Surveys

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GREEN RIVER– You can assist mule deer management, get a hands-on look at habitat conditions on winter ranges of Wyoming’s largest deer herd, and get some exercise to boot, by helping the Wyoming Game and Fish Department with the annual Wyoming Range mule deer mortality surveys.

According to wildlife biologist and survey coordinator Gary Fralick, the goal of the surveys is to get a sample of winter mortality on the Wyoming Range mule deer herd for an indication of overall loss and what age classes were hit hardest by the winter conditions.

“Based on this important survey, we can offer some predictions about what the upcoming hunting season may offer to deer hunters who hunt in the Wyoming Range, Grey’s River and Smith’s Fork,” says Fralick. “This is our fifteenth year of doing the mortality surveys and it has always been a successful volunteer effort for the Game and Fish. Everyone is welcome, whether they like to hike or ride horses, and we appreciate the public’s help in conducting these important surveys.”

Fralick says he anticipates varying levels of mortality depending on the area.

“We are expecting above normal to severe deer mortality in areas south of Cokeville, around Sage Junction, and near Kemmerer and Evanston. A significant portion of this segment of the deer herd migrates to summer ranges in the Grey’s River and headwaters of LaBarge Creek and the Smith’s Fork River. However, we’re estimating below normal winter losses for those deer in the LaBarge and Daniel areas. Overall, the 2007-08 winter was generous to that segment of the deer herd that spends the winter along the Wyoming Range Front. Unfortunately, those deer in southwest Wyoming bore the brunt of the winter losses this year.”

“The persistence of deep, crusted snow conditions, extended periods of below freezing temperatures late into the winter, and the added stress associated with human disturbance associated with antler hunters all contributed to the above normal losses around Kemmerer and Sage Junction. An additional factor was the ongoing drought and poor forage production that reduced survival on these winter ranges.”

“Mule deer enthusiasts still need to remember that the lack of high-quality browse will affect deer numbers during the coming winters,” Fralick said. “In the Daniel and Pinedale areas, we’re anticipating normal to below normal levels of winter mule deer mortality.”

The Cokeville surveys will run Saturday, May 3. Volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. at the Stateline gravel pit, three miles southwest of Sage Junction on U.S. Highway 30/89. The Pinedale surveys will also run May 3. Volunteers meet at the Pinedale Game and Fish Office at 9 a.m. The LaBarge surveys follow the next day, Sunday, May 4. Volunteers should meet at the Wyoming Department of Transportation compound in LaBarge at 9:30 a.m. The Leroy surveys will run Saturday, May 10 near Evanston. Contact the Green River Game and Fish Office for starting time and location.

Volunteers must fill out a volunteer form upon their arrival in order to participate in the mortality surveys.

To sign up or receive more information, contact Gary Fralick at (307) 883-2998. Interested persons may also call the Pinedale Game and Fish office at (800) 452-9107 or Green River Game and Fish office at (800) 843-8096.