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From this story on Oregonlive.com:
_Poaching is a habit that too many Oregonians apparently share. Mule deer populations have dropped in Oregon to 216,000 animals from historic peaks of more than 300,000 and poaching is one of the reasons why, state wildlife managers say. Current numbers are far short of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s mule deer population objective of 347,400. State biologists recently discovered a shocking level of poaching while conducting a mule deer distribution study in central Oregon south of Bend. “If we look at the illegal take, it’s basically equal to the legal take — it’s bad,” says Michelle Dennehy, a Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman in Salem. “Poaching is not ethical, it’s not hunting.”

__Worse, the five-year research project shows poachers typically take female deer, said DeWayne Jackson, Fish and Wildlife research supervisor in Roseburg. “Does are extremely important” so the herds can reproduce, Jackson said. Legitimate hunters — those who buy licenses and tags, put in for controlled hunts and confine themselves to designated seasons — kill more bucks than does, he said. The state study was conducted from Bend to the California border. Of 500 mule deer fitted with radio collars between July 2005 and last January, 128 died during the research. Of those, poachers killed 19 and hunters legally shot 21. Cougars killed 15 and eight were hit and killed by cars. Of the rest, five succumbed to coyotes, disease claimed five and four died while tangled in fences or from some other accident, Jackson said.

Biologists listed 51 as “cause of death unknown” but poachers could have taken some of those, he said. “Sometimes we just find the radio collar laying out in the sagebrush,” he said. Because the study wasn’t designed to ferret out poachers, biologists don’t know if other areas have comparable numbers of deer taken illegally, said Don Whittaker, Fish and Wildlife ungulate coordinator, but they suspect poaching is happening across Oregon._

Your thoughts? Do you think the level of poaching in your state is as bad as it apparently is in Oregon?

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