As part of an ongoing mule deer study in the Piceance Basin, Colorado Parks and Wildlife will be conducting helicopter capture and collaring operations in Game Management Unit 22, beginning in early December. Hunters heading to this area for a late-season hunt are advised that capture operations may affect a portion of their hunt.

The Piceance Basin is located southwest of Meeker and contains one of the largest natural gas fields in the United States in addition to one of the largest migratory mule deer populations in the country. Several energy corporations currently own leases throughout this 600 square-mile, big game winter range.

“Capture and collaring operations are a critical part of our mule deer study,” said Chuck Anderson, mammals researcher for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “This study attempts to ascertain the impact energy development has on our mule deer population, and the potential ways we can mitigate those impacts.

Anderson says that although the capture operation may inconvenience some hunters today, he reminds hunters of the benefits, including making future hunts much more productive for everyone.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience as we keep working to find some answers to this challenging situation,” said Anderson.

The study, which began in January 2008 and is expected to continue through 2018, is funded and assisted by various partners including the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Colorado State University, Idaho State University, multiple energy corporations including Encana, Williams, Shell, Exxon, Marathon and various sportsmen’s organizations.

Image courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife

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