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Navajo Deer Population in Decline

Navajo Deer Population in Decline
January 18
10:51 2018

Oh, deer!

A survey conducted by wildlife managers from the Navajo Nation’s Department of Fish and Wildlife has found that the deer population on the reservation seems to be in decline. Officials conducted the survey through aerial views over the Chuska Mountains, Ramah Navajo and Defiance Plateau. In each area the number of deer spotted was less than in other years. The survey found fewer deer, but wildlife officials hope to buck that trend.

“There’s been a decline in the population counts since 2010. Why? We are not sure,” Jessica Fort said. Fort is a biologist for the NN Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Scientists are considering two possible causes for the low number of deer, according to Fort.

First, maybe the deer population is falling. Or, it could be that deer are moving into areas that weren’t surveyed.

Why would deer relocate?

It could be that the cost of living is too high and they don’t have enough dough. Or maybe they were tired of people fawning over them.

Deer usually migrate seasonally, Fort explained. Navajo officials are also considering migration based on climate change, such as the lack of a snowpack in the surveyed area.

“Without snow on the mountains, they don’t have a reason to leave high elevations,” Fort said.

Deer could be hiding at higher elevation, making them harder to count, she suggested.

This isn’t a new problem.

There were about 8,000 deer on the Navajo Nation 20 years ago, Jeff Cole, a wildlife manager for the NN Department of Fish and Wildlife, said in 2017. The number dropped to an estimated 5,000 last year, Cole reported.

The deer population has fallen in the state of New Mexico, as well. Officials think droughts and human encroachment may be shrinking the deer’s natural habitat.

While the reign of deer is coming up short, the aerial survey did note an increase in the numbers of feral horses and cattle.

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