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Comment period extended on state’s deer migration draft analysis

A large buck (Shutterstock)

CASPER, Wyo — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department announced it has extended the public comment period for its Risk and Opportunity Draft Assessment  examining the“complex” challenges facing the Platte Valley Mule Deer Migration Corridor. Comments will be taken through Jan. 15, 2021.

The document provides an overview of the conservation challenges and opportunities along the 80 miles in south-central Wyoming that make up “one of the most crucial pathways in the state for spring and fall mule deer movements.”

The Platte Valley mule deer migration corridor is located in Carbon County and overlaps the Platte Valley Mule Deer Herd Unit and hunt areas on the slopes of the Snowy and Sierra Madre Ranges. 

The corridor includes public and private lands. The top concern for the corridor is “maintaining connectivity between seasonal ranges,” Game and Fish said.

It has been an official corridor since 2018 and was recognized as a designated migration corridor as part of Gov. Mark Gordon’s 2020 Executive Order. That order “details a number of habitat protection measures specific to designated migration corridors.” Those measures not apply to private lands.

Currently much of the corridor is conserved under one or more protected habitat designations. Invasive species, energy and exurban development, fencing, roads, and habitat improvement initiatives are all catalogued and considered for their impact on the herds. The draft aims aims to:

  • Analyze existing and potential threats
  • Explore opportunities for proactive conservation
  • Determine appropriate management actions

The document says that Game and Fish aims to manage mule deer population in the corridor to within 10% of an approved “postseason” population size of 16,000 mule deer, an objective based on the habitat sustainability and “the desires of hunters and landowners.”

 According to Department population models, the herd unit supported approximately 12,000 mule deer following the 2019 hunting season.

Interested persons can view the draft assessment, watch a short video, and submit official comments online. A hard copy of the comment form can be downloaded and mailed to Wyoming Game and Fish Department, c/o Embere Hall, 1212 S. Adams Street, Laramie, WY 82070.

Comments will be accepted through Jan.15, 2021, and will contribute to the final assessment, slated to be completed in early 2021.