Deer decline prompts study

Less hunting, fewer deer?

A three-year study was launched recently to identify possible causes for the decline in black-tailed deer populations in Northern California over the past 20 years, despite a major reduction in deer hunting, according to a California Department of Fish and Game press release.

The DFG, UC Davis and several doctoral candidates are tracking fawns and adult deer in Mendocino, Glenn and Lake counties with radio and GPS-tracking collars, and if a deer dies, necropsies will be performed within 24 hours to determine its cause of death. Six mountain lions will also be outfitted with collars and tracked to determine their level of predation on deer. In addition, scientists will analyze the populations of other species, such as coyotes, to understand how the habitat is used, and changes in plant communities will be monitored to evaluate food availability over a deer’s lifecycle.

The number of black-tailed deer bucks harvested (killed) in the area of the study has declined 57 percent from 1989 to 2009, according to the release.