Meetings have been planned in Laramie and Cheyenne to discuss a popular mule deer herd in the area.

Wildlife managers with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department have organized the meetings to discuss management of the Sheep Mountain Mule Deer Herd (SHMMDH). This herd is in hunt areas 61, 74, 75, 76 and 77.

The Game and Fish Department is hosting two initial public meetings, one in Cheyenne and one in Laramie. According to information specialist with the Game and Fish Robin Kepple, the meetings are designed to educate attendees on the basics of mule deer ecology, provide population data for the herd, identify and prioritize the current issues facing the heard, and to develop management strategies to address the issues identified.

It is critical that people interested in mule deer management within the SMMDH attend these meetings.

The Cheyenne meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5, at the Game and Fish Headquarters building, 5400 Bishop Blvd. The Laramie meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6, at the University of Wyoming Student Union, 1000 E. University Ave.

“We really encourage you to think about attending these meetings and getting involved and just knowing some of the challenges that your mule deer populations are facing. We want these herds to be strong and healthy just as much as the hunters do, but we need your help to do it,” says Kepple.

Kepple says that like many places in the Western United States, the Sheep Mountain area has experienced a decline in mule deer numbers over the past 30 years. In 1990, 2,500 hunters harvested 800 mule deer from this herd; while in 2013, 1,400 hunters harvested 200 mule deer.

While the declining mule deer population is the primary cause of this decrease in hunter numbers and harvest, the recent change to a short (6 day) 3-point or better season is also responsible for this decrease. In addition to the Department’s mule deer data, public observations and comments support a declining number of mule deer within the SMMDH.

The combination of harsh winters, drought, increased human activity, and poor fawn productivity has prompted the Department to initiate a focused effort to manage mule deer within the SMMDH. Under average conditions a mule deer herd needs to produce 66 fawns per 100 does to remain stable, the current fawn ratio for the SMMDH is 55 fawns per 100 does, suggesting this population is stable to decreasing.

For more information call the Laramie Regional Office at (307) 745-4046