To the Editor,
With respect to Dave Buchanan's article in the Sept. 26 Grand Junction Daily Sentinel entitled "Fawn Study Reveals 50 Percent Mortality Rate," as a lifetime dry land farmer and rancher from the Meeker area, I am not at all surprised at the non-predator mortality rate.
The deer population is not dying due to too many hunters or too little forage. They are dying because their breeding season has been disrupted by hunting seasons occurring during the normal breeding season. The breeding season has been delayed and the fawns are being born later in the year.
When a fawn is born late, the mother's milk is not sufficient because of the dry condition of the grass and forage. It does not enable the doe to provide enough milk and the fawn therefore does not properly develop the ruminant stomach to handle the forage on his own. That fawn is doomed. No amount of feeding can reverse this condition.
What evidence is there of this condition? Ask any old-timers if they recall seeing spotted fawns as late as August back when the deer herds were healthy. None existed. Now I receive reports of little spotted fawns being observed as late as October. Some ranchers have reported that they hate to mow hay in late August because now they are likely to injure or kill baby fawns. If a defective late-season fawn does happen to make it to adulthood, it becomes a weak and defective adult and does not have the stamina to produce a healthy fawn. Its stomach never does develop properly.
The suggestion in Mr. Buchanan's article that we may need to kill even more does to provide more habitat is absolutely on the wrong track. There is more forage available than ever. We only need some healthy deer to eat it. The weak and sickly fawns are the result of the DOW's mis-management of the hunting seasons for many years.