– by Amy Brunvand
Don’t blame the coyotes; Mule deer and drilling don’t mix
Turns out mule deer and drilling don’t get along. Researchers in Colorado found that mule deer shy away from active drill pads and roads so that more than half of their critical winter range is impacted in areas with oil and natural gas development. Utah’s Mule Deer Protection Act of 2012 offers a bounty on coyote pelts, supposedly to halt continued decline of Utah’s mule deer population from predation, but the evidence points to increased oil and gas development as the real culprit.
Utah legislators are always talking about “environmentally sensitive energy and mineral development” and this research shows what that might actually look like; developers should avoid drilling during winter months when animals have a harder time finding food and they should be required to provide undeveloped refuge habitat where animals can hide.
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