SARATOGA - Improving habitat for mule deer was the topic of a recent meeting in Saratoga in which the public was informed of a plan by the Game and Fish to address declining numbers of mule deer in the Platte Valley.
At the meeting, Game and Fish Director Scott Talbott said, “We are at a point where it’s time for us to strengthen our commitment to mule deer in the Platte Valley. And we’ve asked the Game and Fish Commission to set aside $500,000 in seed money for the establishment of the Platte Valley Habitat Partnership.”
Talbott said this is something that has not been attempted in Wyoming in the past. “While this is plowing new ground we’re excited about the opportunity that we hope can actually effect a change in habitat for mule deer in the Platte Valley,” Talbott said.
In announcing the plan to the public,the department will focus on developing habitat partnerships among the Game and Fish, private landowners, land management agencies, and conservation groups. It is anticipated that the$500,000 the commission has provided will trigger matching grants to multiply the fund many times to develop habitat projects.
“Habitat work is extremely expensive,” Talbott said. “If we can match the commission’s contribution in a manner consistent with what other organizations and state agencies have been doing, that half-million dollars will be seed money and grow to provide a significant amount of habitat work.”
The proposed partnership follows a series of meetings beginning last August, at which the public was asked to provide input on issues and challenges facing the Platte Valley mule deer herd. Following the meetings, the Game and Fish used the public input to draft a management plan which will guide mule deer management in the coming years.
Talbott said he hopes this partnership will recognize the ongoing contributions of private landowners and facilitate opportunities to further improve mule deer habitat in the valley including both public and private lands. “It’s an opportunity and we’re willing to step up and do our best in an attempt to improve habitats for mule deer,” Talbott said.
Talbott also recognized the hard work and personal time investment of those stake holders in the Platte Valley who helped develop the draft management plan.
The Platte Valley mule deer herd is one of the focus herds under the Wyoming Mule Deer Initiative. This herd unit has been selected for special attention as part of the Game and Fish effort to address declining mule deer numbers throughout the state. Over the past number of years, the Platte Valley deer herd has been a source of concern for wildlife managers and the public alike. The Platte Valley herd encompasses Hunt Areas78, 79, 80, 81, 83, and 161.
The draft Platte Valley Mule Deer Management plan is available on the Game and Fish website. Click on Wildlife and Habitat, then Mule Deer Initiative, then on Platte Valley Initiative.
(Contact: Al Langston (307) 777-4540)