Colorado Parks and Wildlife conducting mule deer study in Piceance Basin

Late season GMU 22 hunters may be affected by capture, collar operations

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“Capture and collaring operations are a critical part of our mule deer study. This study attempts to ascertain the impact energy development has on our mule deer population, and the potential ways we can mitigate those impacts.”

Chuck Anderson, mammals researcher for Parks and Wildlife, about a mule deer capture and collaring study in the Piceance Basin.

Hunters planning a late season hunt in northwest Colorado are advised that state officials will be in the area to conduct an ongoing mule deer population study.

Beginning in December Colorado Parks and Wildlife will begin helicopter capture and collaring operations in the Piceance Basin — specifically in Game Management Unit 22, according to a Parks and Wildlife news release.

Hunters heading into the field next month may be affected by the study.

“Capture and collaring operations are a critical part of our mule deer study,” said Chuck Anderson, mammals researcher for Parks and Wildlife, in the release. “This study attempts to ascertain the impact energy development has on our mule deer population, and the potential ways we can mitigate those impacts.”

The Piceance Basin, located southwest of Meeker, contains one of the largest natural gas fields, in addition to one of the largest migratory mule deer populations, in the United States.

Several energy operators currently own leases throughout the 600-square mile big game winter range, the release states.

The study, which began in January 2008 and is expected to continue through 2018, is funded and assisted by numerous partners, including the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Colorado State University, Idaho State University, a variety of sportsmen’s groups, as well as many energy operators, including Encana, Williams, Shell, Exxon and Marathon, the release stated.

Though Anderson concedes the study may inconvenience hunters, he asks them to bear in mind the benefits, including ensuring future hunts are productive for everyone.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience as we keep working to find some answers to this challenging situation,” Anderson said in the release.

For more information about the capture and collaring study, call Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s office in Meeker at 970-878-6090.

Additional information about the Piceance Basin mule deer study can be found on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife web site.

Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or jmoylan@craigdailypress.com.

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