Colorado since the 1800s has been an icon for mule deer as well as many other types of wildlife. Colorado has an incredible amount of sagebrush for elk to browse upon and thanks to the Colorado River the wildlife have had plenty of water to suit their needs for living. However since the mid-1900s Colorado has seen wild dips in the population of many species. Mule deer for example has had an incredible amount of swings in their populace. Wildfires have forever affected Colorado for many decades, thanks to the fires many acres of land have been destroyed; meaning that not only mule deer but other species are losing precious land. Droughts, as well have affected the environment. Lack of precipitation would inevitably lead to wildfires, there we see the problem. With less land and water the mule deer population was greatly affected. With large numbers and less food to browse upon the population decreased drastically. Being in close quarters with each other, the mule deer eventually spread disease and soon a great famine overthrow the vast leftover population. Currently as of 2016, it’s estimated that about 400,000 mule deer are alive and healthy; however this number may be large but it’s a drastic dip from the objective population of 550,000 (CPW).
What this statistic says about our ecosystems, you may be asking. The mule deer population may not be in an endangered zone but the statistic gives serious notions that something is awry. While other species thrive, mainly predators other species are on the decline. Most would think that eliminating predators would then increase other species population, while true in theory this decision would host its own set of problems. You see, predators are incredibly important when talking about sustaining ecosystems. Without the predators other species like mule deer would see a drastic spike in life span and population. “Well doesn’t that solve the issue?” critics may argue but in fact the over saturation of mule deer and other species too would lead to even more problems. An overabundance of mule deer would in fact lead to many negative repercussions. With such an abundance of mule deer they would browse upon incredibly large amounts of plants and sage, leading to an inevitable food shortage. With such great numbers the deer would need to eat whole heartedly to survive with each other. Not only would this lead to a problem with the environment we could also see a potential disease spread from the animal. Living in such close quarters with such rapid numbers would indeed spread disease quickly. So as we see the predator theory leads to too many problems, meaning that new ideas must come to fruition.
In Colorado some mule deer populations live dangerously close to highways and in being so close to towns and cities poaching would become a large issue. First off statistics show in Colorado show that a hundreds of mule deer are hit on highways each year (CPW). It may not be a significant amount but reducing the risk of highway fatalities would indeed lead to a subtle but effective growth in the mule deer population. Next a controversial issue will be discussed. In terms of mule deer fatalities poaching is a major crisis that has faced many species for many decades. In Colorado we have changes in hunting policies, via tags for only female elk or hunting is only allowed in densely populated areas. This however is not going to eliminate poaching all together. In the US it is very easy to obtain a firearm of any kind; especially if you are a born and raised American. With mule deer living so close to big towns and cities it would be easy to sneak into an area that mule deer are likely to be around. Most areas like the monument or the book cliffs aren’t prohibited. They may be limited in what areas you may hike towards but still anyone could find loop holes. While we cannot eliminate poaching all together it is crucial that we keep better management of areas in which mule deer are heavily associated in and lastly keep an open and eye and restrict areas to people that don’t have tags for example.
The final piece in the puzzle of mule deer conservations lies in their environment itself. Colorado has always been known for its coal and gas but also Colorado is known for fracking, or hydraulic fracturing. Fracking may seem environmentally friendly but in fact it is a source of pollutants in our water. All living things depend on water to live and polluting the water does in fact not help out the situation of mule deer’s. Thankfully in the past few decades it has gotten better, see the clean water act approved by the EPA. Eliminating fracking is not the answer for that is too drastic and would lead to financial loss. But in Colorado especially it would be very important to improve and increase the usage of renewable energy sources. Not only would this help with clean air and water it would significantly support a reduction in the annual droughts that we suffer from in the westward states. The droughts have in fact created many wildfires leaving destruction in its wake, by taking a step to reduce these natural disasters a chance for the mule deer populace to grow would indeed begin.
In order to have a stable environment and stable ecosystems Colorado must make many changes. By keeping predators around the ecosystems will stay balanced without an over saturation of one species. By reducing poaching and highway fatalities surely but shortly the population will indeed grow. Also by taking care of our precious environment we will see steady growth not only for the animals but for us humans. While me may not be able to eliminate every issue we can start slow and make changes that can provide steady growth in populations around Colorado, it may be slow and take an incredible amount of time but eventually the changes brought forth will lead to a better and stable environment to which ecosystems flourish.
“COLORADO PARKS & WILDLIFE.” Colorado Parks and Wildlife. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.
“EPA in Colorado.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 21 Dec. 2016. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.
EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.