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Mule Deer Population Halved in Pinedale Anticline over 9 Years Due to Gas Well Drilling

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November 04, 2010

Mule Deer Population Halved in Pinedale Anticline over 9 Years Due to Gas Well Drilling

By Hal Herring

It doesn’t take a modern Nostradamus to predict that when you ignore the concerns of local conservationists, doze in miles of new roads and drill hundreds of gas wells, year-round, in winter range in Wyoming, you are going to lose a lot of your deer herd. But a new study on the Pinedale Anticline shows the loss of about half the mule deer that winter there, over the course of the past 9 years. Gee, who would have thought?

And rather than fueling outrage, raising a hue and cry among sportsmen, the study seems to have been mostly forgotten in the news cycle. Here’s the New York Times story, which mentions the lawsuit brought by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

The headline states that the mule deer declines warrant "serious" mitigation efforts. Interesting, isn’t it, how we have moved from protecting our wildlife resources and our public lands, balancing energy or other development with wildlife concerns, to "mitigating” the losses? Even though nobody has defined what mitigating the loss of a mule deer herd would actually look like?

From the beginning, way back in 2002, it was recognized that industry would rather go full steam ahead, let the losses to grazing, weed control, antelope, mule deer, whatever resource mount and then claim the losses could be "mitigated" somehow. Of course they could. We could decide to feed all of our migratory big game herds on pellets, as they have in the Jackson Hole Elk Refuge (which is also known as perhaps the greatest wildlife disease event risk in the US) and just let energy development proceed with nary a care for the repercussions--which is pretty much how it is being permitted right now.

High Country News reports on a new industry push into the Fortification, a 100,000-acre area of northern Wyoming, which is home to an utterly unique desert elk herd that produces monster bulls providing one of America’s most challenging and fascinating hunting opportunities, in one of the wildest regions of the Powder River Basin. Here is the Casper Star Tribune’s report on the proposed development, which notes that the elk herd is declining as it is pushed by the development already underway.

And, in the most recent news from the Roan Plateau, Colorado, negotiations by Trout Unlimited and other conservation groups with the Bill Barrett Corporation to try and protect a small part of the plateau from development have collapsed. The Denver Post has that story.

Trout Unlimited and nine other conservation groups had filed a lawsuit saying the federal Bureau of Land Management failed to study the impacts of such wide-scale development (as many as 3,000 gas wells, with associated roads and wellpads) on the wildlife, water, and recreational values of the Roan. The lawsuit will now proceed.

Americans have become convinced that natural gas is the energy of the future, replacing polluting coal and other fossil fuels. I agree wholeheartedly. But what is being hidden in these giant pro-gas ad campaigns is the cold fact that the regulations regarding the extraction of this energy of the future are absurdly inadequate.

Our public lands and our public wildlife and our waters are being taken from us. We could have the gas, the profits could be made, the public lands and wildlife could be protected. But that is not what is happening now.

--Hal Herring

Comments (33)

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from john c. wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

We humans marvel at our supposed domination over nature, and then stand around amazed when it all falls apart.

In my home state the coal companies are currently destroying whole ecosystems via Mountain Top Removal Coal Mining, and yet no one seems to care. In fact, most people seem to support the coal companies. Point out to many people that they are acquiescing to the destruction of their home, and they shrug and say, "they are just mountains."

I guess part of the problem is that people don't hunt, fish, hike, farm or what have you anymore, and thus their connection with nature has been severed. This being the case, I suppose it then becomes easy for people to rationalize blowing the tops off of what might be the oldest mountains on the planet, or marring the western landscape with a seemingly endless number of gas wells. Still, should not a nation that professes to be grounded in the traditions of Christianity, show some humility or good sense when it comes to God's creation?

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mr. Creosote wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Maybe it's because we're largely a nation of fat, unthinking, self-absorbed, overstimulated zombies who, by and large, prefer to be entertained rather than forced to think about real issues and real consequences.

And even when we do discuss real issues and real consequences, we generally do it from a completely uninformed, fantasy-based position most-often supplied to us from the vested interests whose job is to influence the sheeple formerly known as citizens, get them all worked up into a fake, corporate-sponsored populist outrage so they they can then vote back into office the very chuckleheads who caused the problems in the first place.

It's so freakin' brilliant, and we're so freakin' doomed.

So see, even when we're debating and discussing, we're not really debating and discussing, we're just regurgitating talking points. Simple fact is we'd much prefer someone else do the actual thinking for us, and tell us what to say so we can merely parrot whatever position we're told to take.

Sportsmen are no different. Sound conservation isn't a conservative or a liberal issue, but

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mr. Creosote wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

...the vested interests have turned it into one. All they have to do is trot out the gun-control boogeyman, the liberal boogeyman, the anti-hunting boogeyman, hell, they've got a whole closet full of boogeymen.

And we say "oh hell, we can't have that, they gonna take our guns away!" and then we proceed to vote for corporate-sponsored goons who are diametrically opposed, and indeed who actively want to destroy almost every single conservation value we as hunters and anglers should hold dear, all because they hold up a gun and say, "look at me, I'm one of you!"

Well, you're not one of me, bub. But if you try pointing that out, what happens? You're attacked, because corporate-sponsored, corporate-incited mob-mentality politics is how we roll in this country these days, and my guess is the mule deer of the Pinedale Anticline, along with a helluva lot else, are screwed because of it.

We're a nation of idiots, and sadly, we're getting exactly the kind of representation we deserve...

+15 Good Comment? | | Report
from The White Slug wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

@Mr. Creosote:
The points everyone refuses to admit.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from The White Slug wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

PS This is known as distraction. I'm in advertising, believe me I know.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from sjsmarais@gmail.com wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Now watch someone accuse Mr. Creosote of 'hating America'.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from bberg7794 wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

There seems to be one rule that holds true regarding humanity and that is: If there is a dollar to be made now, regardless of what the future consequences may be, someone will be happy to take that dollar. It is guaranteed that the person who takes that dollar will attempt to do so as cheaply as possible for themselves and call it their "right" to do so. Unfortunately the masses either rationalize what that person is doing or at least look the other way.

I can't believe the people I meet where I live now, who may fish and hunt too, who tell me that there is plenty of land, forests, etc and that any development is good and is progress. They forget that once there were wild populations of Atlantic salmon and passenger pigeons here. What species are they willing to forget about next?

Where I grew up, the human population more than doubled between 1970 and 1995 and is still rising. Most of the places I used to hunt and fish are just gone and all of these people are consumers of energy. Every family worries about it's bottom line, but I wish more would reflect on their behavior today and what the bottom line will look like to their grand-kids and great grand-kids as our personal and national debt load increase-and at what cost to possibly irreplaceable wild ecosystems.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from aferraro wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

As a regular reader of this (joke of a) column I've learned that wolves are good for deer populations and now I know that drilling for natural gas somehow cuts them in half. There must be an undisputable cause and effect relationship between with drilling because there are no other variables right? It's not like deer populations are declining in places where there is no drilling, or predators are returning to the region, or the weather changes every year. Never mind, the story appears in the NY Times so it must be true.

-7 Good Comment? | | Report
from jbird wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Looking at Tuesday's election results, I wouldn't count on any "regulation" improvements being proposed any time soon. But look at how all this under-regulated drilling has led to more affordable natural gas...yeah right.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from aferraro wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Natural gas IS at a 10 year low and it's trading at a generational low vs. oil. Why don't you learn something before you make such an idiotic comment?

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sage Sam wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

aferraro and Dcast:

Take your partisan politics someplace else and try to learn some facts. The oil and gas industry doesn't have "far more regulations on them." In fact, the don't have to disclose what chemicals are used in fracturing fluids or in what quantities (except in the liberal bastion of WY) despite the fact that we know the industry uses carcinogens such as benzene in those fluids.

The industry has no requirement to use best management practices, which leads to companies doing the cheapest thing possible. That leads to problems like the 1000 plus spills we have seen in Colorado over the past 7 years.

The notion that somehow these areas are magically reclaimed after development occurs is purely wishful thinking. Companies can post a $250K nationwide reclamation bond with the government and then do nothing. Which is more expensive, that middling bond or the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars that it will cost to reclaim the thousands of wellpads that some companies have developed over the past decade? I'll give you a hint, it's the former. Add in that agencies like the BLM don't have the manpower to actually monitor reclamation performance and it's a massive problem and an environmental disaster waiting to happen.

Additionally, as someone who lives in the gas patch and has spent a considerable amount of time in the Upper Green Valley, I can say that the drilling boom is directly responsible for mule deer population declines (never mind sage grouse, pronghorn, etc). To toss out the red herring of "depredation" is just plain idiotic.

I don't care about Democrats or Republicans, but I do care about the land and I expect my fellow sportsmen to understand that you can't supporting raping the land and still call yourself a conservationist.

Keep up the good work Hal.

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from aferraro wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

I stated that natural gas is historically cheap because of drilling and new supply- this is a fact. I stated that deer populations are dropping in many places where this is no drilling- this is a fact.

States more or less regulate their gas resources, but any agent linked to cancer must be disclosed. Landowners are well compensated by drillers.

I don't believe "conservationists" can dictate what states do because they fly thousands of miles to AK or WY for a hunt twice a decade and want a nice view. That's why we have elections. Speaking of elections, your messiah Obama had 60 Dem Senators and the House for 18 months and never addressed energy or the environment- maybe he was too busy with issues near and dear to his heart like governmment healthcare, rasing taxes and fighting for the DC gun ban.

I'd love to hear any scientific data that disputes either of these facts. Your opinions about cause and effect and your evil oil company conspiracy theories will do nothing to change my mind.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from bberg7794 wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

The gas companies are so trustworthy and so subject to oversight that the State of Pennsylvania is suing one and possibly a second gas companies for failure to adequately address the contamination at least 24 residential drinking water wells.

The following are quotes Pennsylvania's Environmental Secretary to the AP: "The fracking process is currently exempted from federal water quality laws, regulated instead by myriad state rules. Responding to growing concerns, the Environmental Protection Agency is drawing a study that could lead to removal of the exemption and application of federal authority."
-This doesn't sound to me like oil and gas companies are stringently regulated. I worked in aviation maintenance for over 15 years and our small shop could expect a visit from the FAA about once a month. Why should the gas companies not be held to a similar standard?-

"Earlier this month, a private consulting firm working for the plaintiffs said it had found toxic chemicals in Dimock water, including industrial solvents, but that it could not say the chemicals were the result of gas drilling."
-Where did the solvents come from then?-

The people whose wells were affected have had to live with one of the giant military tanks parked in their yard, some for up to two years. I know that would upset me. I can't understand why my fellow hook and bullet friends are so quick to come to the support of corporations who continue to prove they do not have the best interests of the public nor wildlife in their agendas-only maximizing profits.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Ferraro and Dcast - Herring and the other commenters are pinko liars and you guys are totally right. The clarity y'all bring to these posts is blinding.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from square_peg wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Protecting our wildlife resources is one of the costs of extracting material resources from our public lands. If those cost aren't paid then the extraction amounts to stealing.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from logan.vandermay wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

What a joke. It all to be blamed on mining and none of the blame on wolves. Not to mention my relatives that live in Wyoming claim there are too many deer. If you beleive New York newspapers for your information there is no hope for you.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from IowaGuy wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Destruction of habitat and loss of area is the greatest threat to hunting and fishing. 2nd Am. and the "anti-hunter" groups are red herrings to the real threats.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from GregMc wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Great post Hal. Thanks for blogging here, we need more educated outdoor writers like yourself looking out for the future of hunting.
It doesn't have to be a choice between development and hunting. We can have a balance and we can protect some areas from any development.
Unfortunately, right now there is less regulation on public land drilling than there was 10 years ago and drilling companies are not using best available technology and protecting our resources. Huge tracts of public land are leased but not developed while companies are out fighting to lease more hunting areas.
Those of you who want to shout down the idea that we should expect our public lands to remain intact for future generations should reevaluate the reason you spend time on a hunting and fishing blog.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from aferraro wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

I have no idea if anyone is a tree hugging/ pinko/ donkey loving leftist, but I bet one or two of you cried in you milk when Keith Olbermann got suspended. Wow (Berg), in PA lawyers are suing each other and they found an evil corporation with deep pockets- shocking.

Why are harvest numbers in the NE, a hundred miles away from drilling, down over the past 5 years? I know from reading this joke of a column that predators are great for deer populations so it can't possibly be the hybrid coyotes. Maybe our booming housing market and all the new construction is driving them out- oh wait... There is no drilling and no "loss of habitat". When the facts don’t support your position maybe fall back on “climate change”?

It seems like this column has been opposed to ALL energy exploration and production and all mining but loves wolves, coyotes, wild dogs, lions, trial lawyers, sharks, the NYT, tigers and bears, Obama, and, more than anything in the world, telling private and public landowners what they can and can’t do with their land. We'd all be riding our bikes to work with hungry wolf packs close behind if we followed your advice.

How many PA / NY farms would be left in 10 years without nat gas development? 15 years ago my grandmother sold off lots and let loggers cut their woods just to pay the property taxes on her farm and fix the roof. Now we have market based land conservation and people won't sell their farms if they are profitable- so stop whining.

For the past 7 years PA couldn't figure out how to tax gas companies (while Ed Rendell and the Democrats were in power). The GOP takes over in January and I bet will fix things in a year.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from hankster64 wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

The problem with coal mining, gas drilling, oil drilling, ect. is we have the technology to do it better and safer, however money is the issue. The gulf oil spill is a classic example.
We Americans want Clean air,water,forests and yet we complain if our gas or electric bill goes up,or it costs us more to fill up the car. I live in an area where logging was once done with no concern at all for the evironment. That has changed drasticly with lots of regulation! Has that increased the cost of lumber and paper product? Yes is has, but well worth the cost. Like most issues a balanced common sense approach worksbest. Yes there is areas that should remain wilderness forever!

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Hal, tell me how they made there study. Did they just cruise the roads or did they actually get out and walk past the shadow of there "car"

I wish I had a dollar for deer hunters out west saying there were no deer. If only they got out of there vehicle and hiked up on the backside of the ridges, they would see plenty!

In New Mexico and Arizona in the late evening, after sighting my rifle, just as the sun starts going down I'm watching deer grazing.

GO FIGURE!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from bberg7794 wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Thank you Mr. Herring for quoting your sources and for calling our attention to this topic. I'd be curious to hear what the Mule Deer Foundation has to say.

Pages 3-5 of the report prepared by Western Ecosystems Technology, an independent and private consulting firm, outline the methods used to do this study and was prepared for the Pinedale Anticline Planning Office. This mule deer herd is in its 10th year of study regarding populations with respect to gas drilling.

The methods included darting and collaring 30 female mule deer, helicopter counts over a 101 square mile area using the GPS collared deer to locate the herds for counting, satellite imagery and GIS software for mapping and a 5 step statistical analysis, in addition to counts and data provided by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

There seems to be a lot of resistance to the recognition of quantitative analysis, science, or whatever you choose to call it. Is simply asking so-and-so's brother-in-law if the mule deer in Wyoming are still abundant and migrating healthily good enough? Same question regarding listening to anyone writing on this post, myself included.

Last time I checked, the wildlife in this country belong to all of its citizens. It doesn't matter that Wyoming has the smallest population of all the states and second smallest population density (US Census bureau-If we can believe them)-we should all be aware of the cost of this gas development to the wildlife and we all should feel some responsibility for this decline as users of the resource.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

Shane, the problem we have with this is the fact that they solely blame the oil industry. What other factors were equated in this study?

Was the deer over populated?
Did they only study when the wells were drilled and shortly thereafter? We all know deer leave areas for a period of time when stressed.
What is the predator population in the area?
Was there an extended drought in the area?
Is CWD prevelent in the area?
Has there been a problem with their food in the area? Fire, Drought, ect... can effect populations.
Did the areas surrounding the area of study show an increase of deer populations?
How many hunters in the area?
How many deer are allowed taken in the area?
How many deer were taken in the area?

There are to many variables to studies that can be overlooked. If bberg is correct that they tagged 30 deer for the study for a hundred sq. mi. and then used statistical analysis to make a hypothesis. I don't like statistics because they are easily misrepresented as in the following statement: "3 out of 4 people make up 75% of the population". This is 100% factual, but easily misrepresented in a larger basis. So 30 deer over a 100 sq. mi. can make huge losses or gains either way in a larger picture. Lets here your argument.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

Mule deer are nomadic!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

poaching comes to mind

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from hal herring wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

Here is a link to the study- it will be necessary to cut and paste it- i'm on the world's slowest dial up internet, and not much works:

http://www.wy.blm.gov/jio-papo/papo/reports/2010annualreport_muledeer.p
df>

Please note that the New York Times story was ABOUT the study (which was conducted by independent wildlife biologists, on a contract with the BLM, over the past nine years. The New York Times story was not saying that its reporters were out on the Anticline, looking around for mule deer. Mr. ferrarro, in the comments above, seems confused on that point.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hal herring wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

and more:

Link to story at ammoland.com:

http://www.ammoland.com/2010/11/10/wyoming-mule-deer-losses-deemed-unacc...

and report/study

http://www.scribd.com/doc/41934194/Mule-Deer-Monitoring-2010-Annual-Repo...

thanks for the great comments everybody!

Hal

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

Stop your whining and read these links, it cuts both ways!

Read these links about the Kaibab and it will change the way you think and give you factual knowledge in conservation.

http://depts.alverno.edu/nsmt/youngcc/research/kaibab/kaibab.html

http://depts.alverno.edu/nsmt/youngcc/research/kaibab/story1.html

http://depts.alverno.edu/nsmt/youngcc/research/kaibab/story2.html

http://depts.alverno.edu/nsmt/youngcc/research/kaibab/story3.html

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bernie wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

Some good points have been made on both sides of this issue, which is indeed a thorny one. I must add, however, that I recognize the hypocrisy of some "conservationists" who spent their entire careers working for state wildlife agencies, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, drive 20,000 miles a year on hunting and fishing trips, fly to remote locations for hunting and fishing, then oppose almost all oil and gas drilling. One of these fellows I have known for 30 years owns houses in Anchorage, Mexico and Maine yet he fits the mold.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

Getting pretty tired of the armchair know it alls telling us not to drill in places like ANWAR. Tell me all you naysayers, have you ever been to ANWAR or been to yet alone to Alaska? More in likely not!

Flew over ANWAR looking down through the Boomers Window of a KC135 Tanker. Didn't see a critter until we got back down to the Yukon River area.

In this link, the Caribou are scared to death about the drilling going on!

http://symonsez.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/17-caribou_no_impact5b15d.jp...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MattB wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

Got wolves?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MattB wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

Got wolves?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MattB wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

Got wolves?

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Mr. Creosote wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

...the vested interests have turned it into one. All they have to do is trot out the gun-control boogeyman, the liberal boogeyman, the anti-hunting boogeyman, hell, they've got a whole closet full of boogeymen.

And we say "oh hell, we can't have that, they gonna take our guns away!" and then we proceed to vote for corporate-sponsored goons who are diametrically opposed, and indeed who actively want to destroy almost every single conservation value we as hunters and anglers should hold dear, all because they hold up a gun and say, "look at me, I'm one of you!"

Well, you're not one of me, bub. But if you try pointing that out, what happens? You're attacked, because corporate-sponsored, corporate-incited mob-mentality politics is how we roll in this country these days, and my guess is the mule deer of the Pinedale Anticline, along with a helluva lot else, are screwed because of it.

We're a nation of idiots, and sadly, we're getting exactly the kind of representation we deserve...

+15 Good Comment? | | Report
from john c. wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

We humans marvel at our supposed domination over nature, and then stand around amazed when it all falls apart.

In my home state the coal companies are currently destroying whole ecosystems via Mountain Top Removal Coal Mining, and yet no one seems to care. In fact, most people seem to support the coal companies. Point out to many people that they are acquiescing to the destruction of their home, and they shrug and say, "they are just mountains."

I guess part of the problem is that people don't hunt, fish, hike, farm or what have you anymore, and thus their connection with nature has been severed. This being the case, I suppose it then becomes easy for people to rationalize blowing the tops off of what might be the oldest mountains on the planet, or marring the western landscape with a seemingly endless number of gas wells. Still, should not a nation that professes to be grounded in the traditions of Christianity, show some humility or good sense when it comes to God's creation?

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sage Sam wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

aferraro and Dcast:

Take your partisan politics someplace else and try to learn some facts. The oil and gas industry doesn't have "far more regulations on them." In fact, the don't have to disclose what chemicals are used in fracturing fluids or in what quantities (except in the liberal bastion of WY) despite the fact that we know the industry uses carcinogens such as benzene in those fluids.

The industry has no requirement to use best management practices, which leads to companies doing the cheapest thing possible. That leads to problems like the 1000 plus spills we have seen in Colorado over the past 7 years.

The notion that somehow these areas are magically reclaimed after development occurs is purely wishful thinking. Companies can post a $250K nationwide reclamation bond with the government and then do nothing. Which is more expensive, that middling bond or the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars that it will cost to reclaim the thousands of wellpads that some companies have developed over the past decade? I'll give you a hint, it's the former. Add in that agencies like the BLM don't have the manpower to actually monitor reclamation performance and it's a massive problem and an environmental disaster waiting to happen.

Additionally, as someone who lives in the gas patch and has spent a considerable amount of time in the Upper Green Valley, I can say that the drilling boom is directly responsible for mule deer population declines (never mind sage grouse, pronghorn, etc). To toss out the red herring of "depredation" is just plain idiotic.

I don't care about Democrats or Republicans, but I do care about the land and I expect my fellow sportsmen to understand that you can't supporting raping the land and still call yourself a conservationist.

Keep up the good work Hal.

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from IowaGuy wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Destruction of habitat and loss of area is the greatest threat to hunting and fishing. 2nd Am. and the "anti-hunter" groups are red herrings to the real threats.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from GregMc wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Great post Hal. Thanks for blogging here, we need more educated outdoor writers like yourself looking out for the future of hunting.
It doesn't have to be a choice between development and hunting. We can have a balance and we can protect some areas from any development.
Unfortunately, right now there is less regulation on public land drilling than there was 10 years ago and drilling companies are not using best available technology and protecting our resources. Huge tracts of public land are leased but not developed while companies are out fighting to lease more hunting areas.
Those of you who want to shout down the idea that we should expect our public lands to remain intact for future generations should reevaluate the reason you spend time on a hunting and fishing blog.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from bberg7794 wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Thank you Mr. Herring for quoting your sources and for calling our attention to this topic. I'd be curious to hear what the Mule Deer Foundation has to say.

Pages 3-5 of the report prepared by Western Ecosystems Technology, an independent and private consulting firm, outline the methods used to do this study and was prepared for the Pinedale Anticline Planning Office. This mule deer herd is in its 10th year of study regarding populations with respect to gas drilling.

The methods included darting and collaring 30 female mule deer, helicopter counts over a 101 square mile area using the GPS collared deer to locate the herds for counting, satellite imagery and GIS software for mapping and a 5 step statistical analysis, in addition to counts and data provided by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

There seems to be a lot of resistance to the recognition of quantitative analysis, science, or whatever you choose to call it. Is simply asking so-and-so's brother-in-law if the mule deer in Wyoming are still abundant and migrating healthily good enough? Same question regarding listening to anyone writing on this post, myself included.

Last time I checked, the wildlife in this country belong to all of its citizens. It doesn't matter that Wyoming has the smallest population of all the states and second smallest population density (US Census bureau-If we can believe them)-we should all be aware of the cost of this gas development to the wildlife and we all should feel some responsibility for this decline as users of the resource.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from square_peg wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Protecting our wildlife resources is one of the costs of extracting material resources from our public lands. If those cost aren't paid then the extraction amounts to stealing.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from hankster64 wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

The problem with coal mining, gas drilling, oil drilling, ect. is we have the technology to do it better and safer, however money is the issue. The gulf oil spill is a classic example.
We Americans want Clean air,water,forests and yet we complain if our gas or electric bill goes up,or it costs us more to fill up the car. I live in an area where logging was once done with no concern at all for the evironment. That has changed drasticly with lots of regulation! Has that increased the cost of lumber and paper product? Yes is has, but well worth the cost. Like most issues a balanced common sense approach worksbest. Yes there is areas that should remain wilderness forever!

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mr. Creosote wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Maybe it's because we're largely a nation of fat, unthinking, self-absorbed, overstimulated zombies who, by and large, prefer to be entertained rather than forced to think about real issues and real consequences.

And even when we do discuss real issues and real consequences, we generally do it from a completely uninformed, fantasy-based position most-often supplied to us from the vested interests whose job is to influence the sheeple formerly known as citizens, get them all worked up into a fake, corporate-sponsored populist outrage so they they can then vote back into office the very chuckleheads who caused the problems in the first place.

It's so freakin' brilliant, and we're so freakin' doomed.

So see, even when we're debating and discussing, we're not really debating and discussing, we're just regurgitating talking points. Simple fact is we'd much prefer someone else do the actual thinking for us, and tell us what to say so we can merely parrot whatever position we're told to take.

Sportsmen are no different. Sound conservation isn't a conservative or a liberal issue, but

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from The White Slug wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

@Mr. Creosote:
The points everyone refuses to admit.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from sjsmarais@gmail.com wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Now watch someone accuse Mr. Creosote of 'hating America'.

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from bberg7794 wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

There seems to be one rule that holds true regarding humanity and that is: If there is a dollar to be made now, regardless of what the future consequences may be, someone will be happy to take that dollar. It is guaranteed that the person who takes that dollar will attempt to do so as cheaply as possible for themselves and call it their "right" to do so. Unfortunately the masses either rationalize what that person is doing or at least look the other way.

I can't believe the people I meet where I live now, who may fish and hunt too, who tell me that there is plenty of land, forests, etc and that any development is good and is progress. They forget that once there were wild populations of Atlantic salmon and passenger pigeons here. What species are they willing to forget about next?

Where I grew up, the human population more than doubled between 1970 and 1995 and is still rising. Most of the places I used to hunt and fish are just gone and all of these people are consumers of energy. Every family worries about it's bottom line, but I wish more would reflect on their behavior today and what the bottom line will look like to their grand-kids and great grand-kids as our personal and national debt load increase-and at what cost to possibly irreplaceable wild ecosystems.

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from aferraro wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

I stated that natural gas is historically cheap because of drilling and new supply- this is a fact. I stated that deer populations are dropping in many places where this is no drilling- this is a fact.

States more or less regulate their gas resources, but any agent linked to cancer must be disclosed. Landowners are well compensated by drillers.

I don't believe "conservationists" can dictate what states do because they fly thousands of miles to AK or WY for a hunt twice a decade and want a nice view. That's why we have elections. Speaking of elections, your messiah Obama had 60 Dem Senators and the House for 18 months and never addressed energy or the environment- maybe he was too busy with issues near and dear to his heart like governmment healthcare, rasing taxes and fighting for the DC gun ban.

I'd love to hear any scientific data that disputes either of these facts. Your opinions about cause and effect and your evil oil company conspiracy theories will do nothing to change my mind.

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from bberg7794 wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

The gas companies are so trustworthy and so subject to oversight that the State of Pennsylvania is suing one and possibly a second gas companies for failure to adequately address the contamination at least 24 residential drinking water wells.

The following are quotes Pennsylvania's Environmental Secretary to the AP: "The fracking process is currently exempted from federal water quality laws, regulated instead by myriad state rules. Responding to growing concerns, the Environmental Protection Agency is drawing a study that could lead to removal of the exemption and application of federal authority."
-This doesn't sound to me like oil and gas companies are stringently regulated. I worked in aviation maintenance for over 15 years and our small shop could expect a visit from the FAA about once a month. Why should the gas companies not be held to a similar standard?-

"Earlier this month, a private consulting firm working for the plaintiffs said it had found toxic chemicals in Dimock water, including industrial solvents, but that it could not say the chemicals were the result of gas drilling."
-Where did the solvents come from then?-

The people whose wells were affected have had to live with one of the giant military tanks parked in their yard, some for up to two years. I know that would upset me. I can't understand why my fellow hook and bullet friends are so quick to come to the support of corporations who continue to prove they do not have the best interests of the public nor wildlife in their agendas-only maximizing profits.

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from aferraro wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

I have no idea if anyone is a tree hugging/ pinko/ donkey loving leftist, but I bet one or two of you cried in you milk when Keith Olbermann got suspended. Wow (Berg), in PA lawyers are suing each other and they found an evil corporation with deep pockets- shocking.

Why are harvest numbers in the NE, a hundred miles away from drilling, down over the past 5 years? I know from reading this joke of a column that predators are great for deer populations so it can't possibly be the hybrid coyotes. Maybe our booming housing market and all the new construction is driving them out- oh wait... There is no drilling and no "loss of habitat". When the facts don’t support your position maybe fall back on “climate change”?

It seems like this column has been opposed to ALL energy exploration and production and all mining but loves wolves, coyotes, wild dogs, lions, trial lawyers, sharks, the NYT, tigers and bears, Obama, and, more than anything in the world, telling private and public landowners what they can and can’t do with their land. We'd all be riding our bikes to work with hungry wolf packs close behind if we followed your advice.

How many PA / NY farms would be left in 10 years without nat gas development? 15 years ago my grandmother sold off lots and let loggers cut their woods just to pay the property taxes on her farm and fix the roof. Now we have market based land conservation and people won't sell their farms if they are profitable- so stop whining.

For the past 7 years PA couldn't figure out how to tax gas companies (while Ed Rendell and the Democrats were in power). The GOP takes over in January and I bet will fix things in a year.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Hal, tell me how they made there study. Did they just cruise the roads or did they actually get out and walk past the shadow of there "car"

I wish I had a dollar for deer hunters out west saying there were no deer. If only they got out of there vehicle and hiked up on the backside of the ridges, they would see plenty!

In New Mexico and Arizona in the late evening, after sighting my rifle, just as the sun starts going down I'm watching deer grazing.

GO FIGURE!

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from Dcast wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

Shane, the problem we have with this is the fact that they solely blame the oil industry. What other factors were equated in this study?

Was the deer over populated?
Did they only study when the wells were drilled and shortly thereafter? We all know deer leave areas for a period of time when stressed.
What is the predator population in the area?
Was there an extended drought in the area?
Is CWD prevelent in the area?
Has there been a problem with their food in the area? Fire, Drought, ect... can effect populations.
Did the areas surrounding the area of study show an increase of deer populations?
How many hunters in the area?
How many deer are allowed taken in the area?
How many deer were taken in the area?

There are to many variables to studies that can be overlooked. If bberg is correct that they tagged 30 deer for the study for a hundred sq. mi. and then used statistical analysis to make a hypothesis. I don't like statistics because they are easily misrepresented as in the following statement: "3 out of 4 people make up 75% of the population". This is 100% factual, but easily misrepresented in a larger basis. So 30 deer over a 100 sq. mi. can make huge losses or gains either way in a larger picture. Lets here your argument.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

poaching comes to mind

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from jbird wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Looking at Tuesday's election results, I wouldn't count on any "regulation" improvements being proposed any time soon. But look at how all this under-regulated drilling has led to more affordable natural gas...yeah right.

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from logan.vandermay wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

What a joke. It all to be blamed on mining and none of the blame on wolves. Not to mention my relatives that live in Wyoming claim there are too many deer. If you beleive New York newspapers for your information there is no hope for you.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

Mule deer are nomadic!

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from The White Slug wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

PS This is known as distraction. I'm in advertising, believe me I know.

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from hal herring wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

and more:

Link to story at ammoland.com:

http://www.ammoland.com/2010/11/10/wyoming-mule-deer-losses-deemed-unacc...

and report/study

http://www.scribd.com/doc/41934194/Mule-Deer-Monitoring-2010-Annual-Repo...

thanks for the great comments everybody!

Hal

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

Stop your whining and read these links, it cuts both ways!

Read these links about the Kaibab and it will change the way you think and give you factual knowledge in conservation.

http://depts.alverno.edu/nsmt/youngcc/research/kaibab/kaibab.html

http://depts.alverno.edu/nsmt/youngcc/research/kaibab/story1.html

http://depts.alverno.edu/nsmt/youngcc/research/kaibab/story2.html

http://depts.alverno.edu/nsmt/youngcc/research/kaibab/story3.html

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from shane wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Ferraro and Dcast - Herring and the other commenters are pinko liars and you guys are totally right. The clarity y'all bring to these posts is blinding.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

Getting pretty tired of the armchair know it alls telling us not to drill in places like ANWAR. Tell me all you naysayers, have you ever been to ANWAR or been to yet alone to Alaska? More in likely not!

Flew over ANWAR looking down through the Boomers Window of a KC135 Tanker. Didn't see a critter until we got back down to the Yukon River area.

In this link, the Caribou are scared to death about the drilling going on!

http://symonsez.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/17-caribou_no_impact5b15d.jp...

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from MattB wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

Got wolves?

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from MattB wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

Got wolves?

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from MattB wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

Got wolves?

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from aferraro wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Natural gas IS at a 10 year low and it's trading at a generational low vs. oil. Why don't you learn something before you make such an idiotic comment?

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from hal herring wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

Here is a link to the study- it will be necessary to cut and paste it- i'm on the world's slowest dial up internet, and not much works:

http://www.wy.blm.gov/jio-papo/papo/reports/2010annualreport_muledeer.p
df>

Please note that the New York Times story was ABOUT the study (which was conducted by independent wildlife biologists, on a contract with the BLM, over the past nine years. The New York Times story was not saying that its reporters were out on the Anticline, looking around for mule deer. Mr. ferrarro, in the comments above, seems confused on that point.

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from Bernie wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

Some good points have been made on both sides of this issue, which is indeed a thorny one. I must add, however, that I recognize the hypocrisy of some "conservationists" who spent their entire careers working for state wildlife agencies, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, drive 20,000 miles a year on hunting and fishing trips, fly to remote locations for hunting and fishing, then oppose almost all oil and gas drilling. One of these fellows I have known for 30 years owns houses in Anchorage, Mexico and Maine yet he fits the mold.

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from aferraro wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

As a regular reader of this (joke of a) column I've learned that wolves are good for deer populations and now I know that drilling for natural gas somehow cuts them in half. There must be an undisputable cause and effect relationship between with drilling because there are no other variables right? It's not like deer populations are declining in places where there is no drilling, or predators are returning to the region, or the weather changes every year. Never mind, the story appears in the NY Times so it must be true.

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