ODFW seeks public input on mule deer, elk populations

Mule deer

The public can weigh in as the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reviews management objectives (MOs) for mule deer and elk populations on 67 wildlife management units.

A population MO is not the maximum number of animals a unit can support, but a compromise that tries to maintain deer and elk numbers at levels compatible with primary uses of the land. The MO also factors in habitat availability, carrying capacity and the level of damage to private property, while trying to maximize recreational benefits (hunting and wildlife viewing) and preventing the serious depletion of wildlife.

Buck ratio MOs range from 12-25 bucks per 100 does, while bull elk ratio MOs range from 10-20 bulls per 100 cows.

ODFW, which periodically reviews management objectives, first asked for input from review committees which included representatives from hunting groups, land management agencies, Oregon State Police and other individuals concerned with deer and elk populations. These committees have already looked at the MOs and offered their input.

“We didn’t want to raise MOs to a level that is unachievable, or lower MOs where populations are not doing as well so they could be achieved under current conditions,” said Doug Cottam, ODFW South Willamette watershed manager, who is managing the MO review for the agency. “There is broad support for maintaining or increasing the current level of hunting opportunity.”

There are no proposed changes for most wildlife management units, but maps and tables at the ODFW website show the units where either ODFW or a review committee has recommended changes.

For areas in or near Grant County, the ODFW map shows no changes recommended for the Northside, Murderers Creek and Sumpter units; buck ratio changes are being considered for Silvies, Malheur and Beulah units; and population objective changes are being considered for the Desolation unit.

The topic was discussed at a June 9-10 meeting in Salem where the Fish and Wildlife Commission was briefed on the MOs.

ODFW staff will review public comments, and the Fish and Wildlife Commission is expected to make a final decision at its Aug. 5 meeting. Before then, comments may be emailed to odfw.wildlifeinfo@state.or.us.

For more information, visit ODFW’s website at dfw.state.or.us or dfw.state.or.us/agency/commission/minutes and click on June 9 & 10 agenda and minutes.

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