This winter's urban deer count is in and less than last year. On Feb. 21, citizen volunteers and Colorado Parks & Wildlife volunteers surveyed ten area boundaries for does and bucks. The survey is part of the early stages to identify trends of resident deer versus seasonal deer.
Cody Purcell, district manager for CPW reported that this year only 239 does and 40 bucks were counted -- a staggering drop from last year's 508 total. Purcell said the numbers were a bit surprising, but some theories may explain the contrast.
Last year's winter was dry, so deer may have hung more in town than out. This year they may be down farther, like in Eckert, due to the harsh weather conditions.
Mountain lion sightings were higher this year but Purcell said that's likely not affected the numbers drastically. The counts did note the deer are in better body condition -- they're heavier and have better coats.
"Some people say there's more deer, some say there's less," said Purcell. "But there's a trend where the deer are staying in town because citizens feed them." Last year Purcell began a campaign to stop citizens from feeding the deer and says the situation has improved.
"Many people have good intentions but don't understand what it does to them," he said.
Not much data is available to compare the deer counts to, so continuing the surveys each season will give the best big picture. An aerial survey is also conducted each winter in December, but the areas surveyed in February must be done on foot.
No management plan is available at this time, as Purcell is working on establishing trends. In June another survey will be conducted to see how the deer move during diverse seasons.
"Nothing drastic is being done yet, as we're just trying to see what's going on and better understand the deer population," said Purcell.