Energy boom hurting deer, antelope herds

07-21-2011 // The Colorado Independent

This excerpt is from The Colorado Independent

The industrialization of once wild landscapes is partly to blame for dramatic declines in mule deer and pronghorn antelope in Colorado and Wyoming, according to a new report.

After reviewing population trends, hunter-harvest reports and licenses sales from the two states over the last 30 years, wildlife biologists John Ellenberger and Gene Byrne concluded that oil and gas drilling, wind farms, agricultural practices and other human encroachments are slicing and dicing critical habitat the animals have historically relied upon to survive phenomenons of drought, weather and disease. The result: A slow, inexorable decline in populations of both species.

Humans are “cutting these big legendary Western landscapes into smaller and smaller islands of habitat. Not only is the winter range not as big and leaving mule deer and pronghorn antelope with fewer options but even the summer range is being impacted and, in some cases, the corridors the animals use to move between these ranges are being restricted by industrial uses,” Steve Torbit, the National Wildlife Federation’s regional executive director, told the Colorado Independent this week. “Some of those chunks of land are just not useable and the animals’ biological response is to either leave or die.”

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