- Associated Press - Friday, October 3, 2014

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - Efforts to protect sage grouse in northwest Wyoming also benefit mule deer that migrate through areas of sagebrush along the Upper Green River, according to new research.

Lander biologist Holly Copeland wrote in a September entry in the academic journal Ecosphere that the unintended benefits of sage grouse protections are an “important step toward the conservation of migratory mule deer.”

Copeland’s study area is located about 50 miles southeast of Jackson and consists of three-quarters public land and a quarter private property.

About two-thirds of mule deer migration corridors, three-quarters of high-use deer “stopover sites” and between 50 and 90 percent of deer winter range in the Upper Green are currently protected from development.

“Of those proportions, conservation actions targeted specifically at sage grouse accounted for approximately half of the overlap in migration corridors and stopover areas, and nearly all of the overlap on winter ranges,” Copeland, a Nature Conservancy employee, wrote.

However, in other ways, efforts to conserve sage grouse could hurt mule deer, Copeland’s study said.

“Not all winter ranges and migration routes of mule deer overlap with sage-grouse core areas, which could create ‘sacrifice areas’ when lands adjacent to sage-grouse core areas are developed in lieu of lands inside core areas,” she wrote.

The Jackson Hole News & Guide reported (https://bit.ly/1rIqOSW ) Copeland’s study noted that the Upper Green’s sage grouse and mule deer have suffered “dramatic declines” that are “concurrent with recent natural gas development.”

Wyoming officials have sought to prevent sage grouse from getting Endangered Species Act protections. The state says its own protections, such as strict limits on the number of wells in core sage grouse areas, are sufficient.

Other research indicates that mule deer can tolerate limited nearby energy development.


Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, https://www.jhnewsandguide.com

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