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Location: California
Joined: 10/04/2008
Posts: 3
colorado unit 62

Does anyone know what is going on with the deer in 62? I hunted elk the 3rd season and noticed a serious lack of deer compared to the last 4 years. I heard that DOW turned 62 into a lion survey zone. Has anyone heard anything about that or know of any other reason why the deer population there would have plummeted so drastically?

exbiologist's picture
Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/19/2008
Posts: 2397
colorado unit 62

The Southern portion of 61 and 62 are part of a lion survey that will take place over the next several years. This means no lion hunting on the Southern portion of the plateau and no killing of tagged lions on the northern portion (but don't quote me on that part). I don't know what you normally see, but last winter's survey put the population right about where its supposed to be. Last winter likely had some additional toll after the survey was completed. I wouldn't worry about the lion kill in that area, they account for about 15% of the overall mortality of does and fawns, less than that on bucks. That's based on 10 years of research in that same area. The lion population will grow over the course of the study and they will kill more deer and elk, but it's not like it's going to double.
Deer shift usage all the time based on forage conditions that vary within an area. Often this is due to logging, fire, and other disturbances outside of weather. In talking to knowledgeable people, lions can cause a shift in deer usage also, not just through predation, but by their presence, just as hunter pressure causes deer to move.
If you're really worried about lion presence in your deer area, hunt them. Just not on the southern end of 61,62. And kill some coyotes too while you're at it.

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