Colorado Deer:  The state estimated the  post-hunt deer population at 427,570 in 2020; 418,310 in 2019. Estimated, post-hunt deer population of 433,140 deer post-hunt in 2018, up from 418,800 post-hunt in 2017; 418,500 deer in 2016, a decline in part as a result of a harsh winter. In 2015 about 435,660 deer. The mild 2014-15 winter allowed for better survival, especially in the northwest. The 2014 post-hunt population was estimated at 424,190 compared to 390,660 in 2013.  Deer licenses for 2018 were increased by 3 percent.  Herd analysis at right.  Historical Colorado deer hunting data and news archive. 

Colorado Deer New

... The seven crossings on Highway 9 from Green Mountain Reservoir to Kremmling include two overpasses and five underpasses along with 10.3 miles of fencing, 29 wildlife guards and 61 escape ramps... more than 100,000 crossings on these passages by mule deer alone ...

... "Colorado is now home to our first wolf litter since the 1940s," said Governor Jared Polis ... Coloradans narrowly voted last year in favor of a law to reintroduce the predator by 2023. A quarter of a million wolves once roamed from coast to coast before European settlers embarked on campaigns of eradication ..,

... Colorado’s iconic wildlife — including moose, elk, deer, and pronghorn, as well as non-game species such as lynx and cutthroat trout — depend on intact seasonal habitats and the migratory routes that connect them...

... The new method utilizes a piece of tissue from the animal’s ear for testing. Previously, more invasive tests had proven effective but difficult to collect, including a rectal sample or biopsy of lymph nodes...

Montezuma County commissioners assert opposition to wolves April 2, 2021 Colorado, The Durango Herald
... Commissioners passed a resolution March 23 called “Making Montezuma County A Sanctuary From Wolf Reintroduction.” ... “A big concern is that wolves will follow migrating deer and elk into the valleys where people are living, and cause problems,” ...

... Colorado Parks and Wildlife decided in 2016 to conduct an experiment to see if limited killing of mountain lions and black bears would have an impact on deer numbers ...
     Court Halts Funding of Unwarranted Colorado Mountain Lion, Black Bear Cull March 31, 2021 Colorado, Center for Biological Diversity
... The U.S. District Court of Colorado has ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the law by funding a Colorado Parks and Wildlife plan to kill hundreds of mountain lions and dozens of black bears without properly analyzing the risks to those animals’ populations and the rest of the environment... intended to artificially boost the mule deer population ...

... “This project will span for two miles in an area that has been identified as a critical migratory corridor for both mule deer and elk,” ... This $11.3 million project is expected to reduce those collisions by at least 80 percent.” ...

... accused of illegally killing 12 deer, two turkeys and a bighorn sheep ram... six months in jail ...

... "We haven't had historically a huge sample size of these animals before," Duncan said. "Having that data is going to be a huge help to our scientists, knowing where the real problems are." ...

Chronic wasting disease found in Four Corners area February 12, 2021 Colorado, Pagosa Springs SUN
... CPW has been monitoring the prevalence of CWD throughout Colorado for more than 20 years. This marks the first time that CWD-infected deer have been found in this location of Colorado ...

... Big game licenses are the primary means of managing big game populations. Preference points, as part of the drawing process, are the method used to allocate these limited licenses. Almost all the plains deer and antelope tags are limited and issued through the drawing process...

  Officials confirm death of beloved, white deer Tilde January 30, 2021 Colorado, KRDO
... Residents have been posting photos and messages following Tilde's passing on the Facebook group, "Tilde the White Deer," which has over 2,000 members...

Colorado Sand Dunes Deer Management Plan  January, 2021 CPW Report
... The estimated post-hunt population size for D-37 reached its peak at almost 3,200 animals in the early 1990s. Since then, the population declined to roughly 1,600 animals in 1998. The population remained relatively stable until 2002, then climbed through to 2006. Thereafter, the population declined through to 2012, likely due to reduced fawn ratios. Since 2012, with a recovery in observed fawn recruitment, the population appears to be increasing..,

Colorado Deer Found With Arrow In Nose January 28, 2021 New Country 99.1
... an arrow that was sticking through its nose... Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers ... were able to tranquilize the deer and remove the arrow safely...

Behavioral and Demographic Responses of Mule Deer to Energy Development on Winter Range  JM Northrup, CR Anderson Jr, BD Gerber, G Wittemyer - Wildlife Monographs, 2021
... assessed the demographic and behavioral responses of a mule deer population to natural gas development on winter range in the Piceance Basin of Colorado ... The strong reaction to wells in the drilling phase of development suggests mitigation efforts should focus on this activity and stage of development...

... Colorado could have to navigate years of pending litigation over the Trump administration’s delisting of the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act as it tries to enact its own voter-approved initiative to reintroduce the predator ...

Mystery and history of the gray wolf in Colorado January 16, 2021 Colorado, Vail Daily News
... The gray wolf once roamed freely throughout more than two-thirds of the United States  ... As settlers moved out west, ranches replaced a significant amount of elk and deer habitat. Wherever their main food source was mostly eliminated, wolves turned to livestock. This quickly made wolves the new enemy of the settlers...

Colorado begins wolf reintroduction plans OK'd by voters January 14, 2021 Washington Post
... By spring or summer, state wildlife officials will start identifying donor populations and locations for reintroduction; slowly begin development of a management plan; and create procedures for settling claims by ranchers, farmers and others who lose livestock to or have property damaged by wolves...

 Wildlife Officers Help Deer With Bird Feeder Stuck Around Neck January 11, 2021 Colorado, CBS Local 
... The officer was able to get the deer down and remove the white plastic cylinder ...

... slated to begin this coming spring ... a heavily used corridor by vehicles ...“Deer and elk spend the warm months in the high country to the north; but most big game move to the important winter range areas south of the highway during the winter...

... Middle Park Deer Herd (DAU D-9) Game Management Units (GMUs): 18, 27, 28, 37, 181, and 371.  Post-hunt Population: Previous Objective: 10,500-12,500 deer; Estimate for 2019: 16,668.  Current Population Objective: 10,500-14,000.  Post-hunt Sex Ratio (Bucks:100 Does): Previous Objective: 30-35. Post-hunt (3-year average) 40.  Current Sex Ratio Objective: 30-35 Bucks:100 Does...

... fires were at their peaks in mid-October ... the agency lost more than $2 million in refunded hunting licenses and tags ... CPW did see a significant increase this year in over-the-counter hunting and fishing licenses ...

... there are about 2,600 elk in the agency's Game Management Unit 20. That area roughly is bordered by Interstate 25 on the east ...

Colorado mountain lions help cull deer with chronic wasting disease. Could wolves?  December 10, 2020 Colorado, Fort Collins Coloradoan
... A Colorado Parks and Wildlife study has shown that adult deer infected with chronic wasting disease are four times more likely to die from mountain lions than uninfected adult deer. Similar studies in Wyoming have shown similar results...

... there’s the 100% statewide drought, something Colorado hasn’t faced in eight years... In south-central Colorado ... smaller elk herds than normal this year... “Elk population in (unit) 68 is horrible,” Holbert said. “Overhunted, overgrazed.” ... They are selling more tags and not really focusing on anything but money..,
... several new wildlife safety features along US Highway 160 in partnership with the Southern Ute Indian tribe ... Among the features to be constructed are a wildlife overpass, a wildlife underpass, an 8-foot-tall exclusion fence, earth escape ramps, and multiple deer guards...
 ... 
Wildlife flights begin for CPW in the northwest December 5, 2020 The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
... Colorado Parks and Wildlife manages more than 400,000 deer, nearly 300,000 elk, 82,000 pronghorn, about 3,000 moose and hundreds of other species. Management of big game species provides millions of dollars to Colorado’s economy each year through hunting revenues for communities and small businesses..,

CPW Using Helicopters to Assess Big Game Herds in SE Colorado November 20, 2020 Colorado, The Prowers Journal
...  Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists will assess deer and elk populations by conducting low-altitude helicopter flights in southeast Colorado ...

... This year, ten lucky Colorado residents will have a minikeg of Christmas Ale from Anheuser-Busch’s Breckenridge Brewery sent to their door by a Santa-approved method: reindeer delivery...

... Wildlife officials in Colorado are reminding residents to keep window wells covered after a deer fell into one outside a home ...

Moose are thriving in Teller November 17, 2020 Colorado Springs Gazette
... moose were rarely seen ... in Colorado as recently as 20 years ago ... Dozens of moose have found their way to Teller County ... part of a larger area that was opened to moose hunting...

Montrose Daily Press
... Over the years, CPW has seen deer and elk tangled with a variety of items, including: tricycles, tires, garden cages, clotheslines, plastic fencing, lawn chairs, Christmas lights and more...

...Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) reminds successful deer hunters in southwest Colorado that their harvested animals must be tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD). The testing is being done this year as part of CPW’s CWD Response Plan and is critical for deer management planning...

Wolves winning by a whisker November 4, 2020 Colorado, soprissun.com
... Proposition 114, the ballot initiative mandating the reintroduction of gray wolves into Western Colorado by the end of 2023, appears to have been approved by voters by the slimmest of margins ...  [wolves] will follow elk down into the farmers’ hay meadows ...

Hunters reportedly confuse moose for elk in Colorado November 4, 2020 OutThere Colorado
... Moose are fairly solitary... with the exception of when they're accompanied by their young. Elk ... often migrate in large herds... Moose are the largest members of the deer family, weighing as much as 1,200 pounds. That's nearly twice as much as the average bull elk , which weighs between 660 and 780 pounds...

... The feeder was making it difficult for the deer to eat ..


Colorado Parks and Wildlife posts photo of massive elk rack November 2, 2020 OutThere Colorado
... Colorado Parks and Wildlife took to Twitter recently to remind their followers just how large an elk can be ... "It died of natural causes on the grounds of the @AF_Academy and was recovered by @COParksWildlife

Parks and Wildlife tests for chronic wasting disease in deer October 30, 2020 Colorado, The Durango Herald
... “Testing is required because CPW is working to determine the current prevalence of the fatal disease in western Colorado,” ... If it is detected in Southwest Colorado, managers may consider an increase in buck licenses in affected areas to try to reduce the spread of the disease...

... Southwest Colorado deer hunters must now bring their harvested animal heads to sampling stations to be tested for ... chronic wasting disease.  Precautionary testing is critical in helping Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) monitor the spread ...

Why we hunt | Wildlife Matters October 27, 2020 Colorado, Colorado Springs Gazette
... After nearly being extirpated from Colorado in the early 1900s, mule deer populations have rebounded to over 400,000.  Elk populations, bolstered by introductions from Wyoming, now stand over 280,000 — more than any other state in the U.S..,

...  a deer that had been shot with an arrow.  The wounds were too severe to save the animal, which had to be put down... An arrow protrudes from both sides of the torso of a deer ...

New Rules Could Better Protect Colorado's Wildlife From Energy Development October 21, 2020 Coloardo, The Pew Charitable Trusts
... (S.B. 19-181) overhauled the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC)—which approves drilling permits and regulates the oil and gas industry—by directing it to safeguard wildlife and its habitat against the potential negative impacts of development...

CO Groups Press for Stronger Wildlife Habitat Protections October 7, 2020 Colorado, Public News Service
... Suzanne O'Neill, executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation, said ... he best available science, that shows surface disturbances from oil and gas development should be limited to no more than 3% per square mile of high-priority habitat for bighorn sheep, mule deer, elk and pronghorn...

Hunting Pressure Modulates Prion Infection Risk in Mule Deer Herds, 2020 Colorado,  Journal of Wildlife Diseases 
... Across 12 areas in Colorado studied between 2002−2018, those with the largest declines in annual hunting license numbers (pressure) showed the largest increases in the proportion of infected adult (≥2–yr-old) male deer killed by hunters (prevalence); prevalence trends were comparatively flat in most areas where license numbers had been maintained or increased... Our findings suggest that harvesting mule deer with sufficient hunting pressure might control chronic wasting disease—especially when prevalence is low ..,

Deer Hunters May Be Selected for Chronic Wasting Disease Testing September 15, 2020 Colorado, Pagosa Daily Post
... CPW will be sending out letters to Colorado rifle season deer (buck and doe) hunters who have been selected for mandatory CWD testing... Click here for complete CWD Testing and Submission Information ...

Mandatory chronic wasting disease testing in 89 game management units September 12, 2020 Colorado, Montrose Daily Press
... Colorado Parks and Wildlife will be conducting mandatory chronic wasting disease (CWD) testing during the 2020 hunting season in specific game management units (GMU) as part of efforts to control the spread of CWD with its Colorado Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan...

Elk Foundation and partners fund Colorado projects September 8, 2020 Business Times of Western Colorado
... The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners have provided a total of nearly $2.6 million to fund research and conservation projects that benefit elk and other wildlife ... 

... Polling has found broad support for wolf reintroduction in Colorado, which some opponents call 'ballot-box biology ... Wolves would threaten Colorado’s deer, elk and moose populations ... 39 counties including Grand, Routt and Garfield have passed resolutions opposing wolf reintroduction... Colorado’s last resident wolves were killed in the 1940s..,

... The study that took a look at the issue analyzed 12 hunting areas around Colorado over 18 years. In short, the hunting areas with the largest decreases in hunting license numbers also had the biggest increases in chronic wasting disease among adult male deer. In areas where hunting licenses stayed the same or increased, the prevalence of chronic wasting disease remained roughly the same...

Long-range plan in works for area wildlife August 20, 2020 Colorado, The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
 ... The Bookcliff deer herd ...  is estimated at 7,450 with the current population objective at 10,000 to 12,000 deer... The Yellow Creek elk herd is currently estimated at 12,420 animals with a population objective of 7,000 to 9,000...

A webinar covering Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s proposed herd management plan (HMP) revisions for D-5 (North Tablelands), D-44 (South Platte River) and D-54 (South Tablelands) deer herds. CPW biologists and field staff were requesting feedback from the public, specifically landowners and hunters, about it’s proposed HMP revisions. - August 20, 2020 Colorado


People caught trying to feed moose pizza in Colorado August 18, 2020 OutThere Colorado
... Jefferson County Open Space Ranger Ben Stanley took to Twitter "... Please don’t approach wildlife for any reason, moose can be extremely dangerous. Save the pizza for the Rangers ..."

... there have been about six sightings of the elk, but most of the visuals were captured on trail cameras ...

Wildlife officer Scott Murdoch discusses a bull elk seen between Conifer and the Mount Evans Wilderness Area with a tire around its neck. He goes over possibilities of how it got on there, what it would take to free the bull of the tire and what people can do to prevent something like this from happening again.


... “we have sporadically observed a small pack of six wolves that appear to have entered northwest Colorado either via the adjacent Uintah Mountains or across Wyoming.” They’ve been eating “native prey, primarily elk and deer. …

State Bridge Mule Deer Herd Management Plan June, 2020 Colorado, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
... D-8 is one of the larger deer herds in the state, but as with many herds in western Colorado, the cumulative impacts of decades of human population growth and the direct and indirect impacts of human activities have continued to diminish both the quality and quantity of habitat and its carrying capacity for deer. Land development, fragmentation by roads and trails, increased human activity on public lands, and suppression of large-scale wildfires have long-term and perhaps even irreversible
effects on the landscape..,

Draft Middle Park Deer Herd Management Plan 2020 Colorado Parks and Wildlife
... From 1989-1999, the population objective for D-9 was 10,500 animals. The deer population was relatively high in D-9 during the early 1980’s through the early 1990’s. Since that time, the herd slightly declined, rebounded, and for the last ten years has remained above the current objective range of 10,500-12,500 which was established in 2000. The current model estimates the deer population at 16,668 animals. Although trends of many mule deer populations have been declining throughout Colorado and the Western U.S, the D-9 DAU has remained productive...

Colorado wildlife agency’s past research raises questions about mountain lion hunting levels May 24, 2020 Denver Post
... CPW biologists determined, from research done between 2004 and 2014 for the purpose of guiding agency decision-making, that wildlife managers cannot let hunters kill more than 12% of lions a year without triggering a decline, according to a report summarizing results and preliminary analysis...

In Colorado, Wolves Are on the Ballot May 14, 2020 Sierra Magazine
... Initiative 107, a November ballot measure to reintroduce gray wolves west of the Continental Divide... It will be the first time that the reintroduction of wolves anywhere in the United States is decided by popular vote... Today, the International Wolf Center estimates that there are 5,500 gray wolves in the continental United States...

CPW targets chronic wasting disease with more testing May 9, 2020 Colorado, Montrose Daily Press
... As of February 2020, CWD has been detected in 33 of 54 deer herds, 14 of 43 elk herds, and two of nine moose herds...  in 2019, 16 deer herds were included in mandatory testing, More than 7,700 samples tested statewide for all cervid species, CWD prevalence exceeds the 5% management threshold in 18 deer herds ..,

Forest Service needs to draw the line on Berlaimont May 7, 2020 Colorado, Vail Daily News
... The Berlaimont parcel, north of I-70 in Edwards, is one of the last major migration corridors for deer and elk in our region, and sits right in the middle of critical winter range, as designated by the Forest Service’s own Forest Management Plan...

Draft Cripple Creek Deer Management Plan May, 2020 Colorado, CPW Report
..Like much of Colorado, the Cripple Creek (D-16) deer herd reached peak population levels in the 1960s and 1970s before declining through the 1980s and 1990s. It is estimated this population peaked in the 1960s at approximately 27,000; however, that estimate included GMUs 59 and 591, which are no longer considered part of this population. In the decades since, the population and associated harvest have declined by approximately 50%...

New Report Key to Protecting CO Big-Game Migration  May 6, 2020 Colorado, Public News Service
... Colorado Parks and Wildlife on Tuesday released its 2020 Status Report on big-game winter range and migration corridors... The current statewide post-hunt deer population estimate is 433,000, which is well below the population objective range of 500,000-560,000 mule deer. In 2018, 23 of 54 (43%) deer herds are below their population objective ranges ..,

... a new state plan to let hunters kill up to 15% a year across western Colorado ... basing their plan on a statewide estimate of 4,000 to 5,500 lions today ...  Sierra Club’s ... estimate of the statewide population would be 3,000 ..,

... “Elk, mule deer and pronghorn face increasing obstacles from highway traffic, development, and habitat degradation as they navigate migration corridors that connect vast stretches of our western landscapes,”  ... 

... Colorado Parks and Wildlife received 624,104 applications for its annual big game draw. That's up from last year's 609,366...

... the total number of deer hunters for all seasons has been on the rise since 2015... The total number of deer hunters during the third season in 2019 was 25,544. While the harvest numbers were lower, the number of deer hunters in the field was not. That number marks a 9.44% increase in the number of hunters for 2019...

... “Reports 10 years ago were occasional sightings, but sightings are the norm now,” said CPW district wildlife manager Matt Yamashita. “Pets and livestock are being either injured or attacked on a fairly routine basis, and on the more serious side of things, we’re getting reports of attacks on people.” ...

... A federal appeals court ruled against the Trump administration for failing to protect the Gunnison National Forest’s Pilot Knob from coal mining... “Pilot Knob is an irreplaceable treasure, providing winter range for deer and bald eagles, severe winter range for elk ...

... elk herds in southwest Colorado ... The number of elk in that area dropped from 19,500 in 2015 to 16,889 in 2019, according to CPW...  a troubling decline in calves surviving to maturity ...

... Despite the effort, Southwest Colorado’s elk and deer herds struggle. But Holst said it’s not fair to blame oil and gas development.  Habitat loss from residential and commercial development, recreation such as hiking and hunting, as well as drought all play a role in big game’s decline...

Native Wildlife Habitat Could Be Destroyed If Mining Company's Expansion Is Approved, Study Finds February 19, 2020 Colorado, Aspen Public Radio
... A study released this week by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program finds native plants and wildlife could be negatively affected if mining company Rocky Mountain Resources’ expansion proposal is approved...

... doe died from having a full stomach of corn that led to acute rumen acidosis... a necropsy where it was discovered the animal's stomach was full of corn ... many animals die quickly from the acid's immediate effects, while others may live longer, but die from liver or brain damage...

Don't be fooled about wolves February 12, 2020 Colorado, Loveland Reporter-Herald
"... the wolf does not belong in settled landscapes... wolves degrade via hybridization with domestic dogs and coyotes into worthless hybrids ... when wolves are introduced into Colorado and are free to multiply, your moose will be exterminated, and your deer and elk will be exterminated ..." [Dr. Geist is a behavioral ecologist and professor ...  one of the world’s most respected authorities on the behavior, ecology and conservation]

  Colorado woman fined for feeding deer in home February 11, 2020 Colorado, WIS-TV
... Authorities discovered videos ... posted online of her feeding the animals... fined $550.50...

Surveying deer population in Colorado Springs February 10, 2020 Colorado, FOX21News.com
... CPW staff teamed up with volunteers all day on Monday to survey neighborhoods west of I-25. An application on their mobile phones allows them to seamlessly log the location, approximate size, and sex of the deer that goes straight into an agency database.  The survey takes place over several years to get a consistent estimate ...

Residents asked to eliminate household items that entangle deer  February 7, 2020 Colorado, Delta County Independent
... two deer that were tangled up in household objects ... a green bird feeder resembling a porch swing. The little buck got it stuck around its neck ... The second little buck got its head stuck in a sourdough pretzel plastic tub. It could not eat or drink ...

Study: Low impact on deer from Piceance gas activity February 4, 2020 Colorado,
The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
... Researchers working in the Piceance Basin have found no long-term negative effects on mule deer from energy development, except for a slight decrease in fetal survival in a year also marked by severe drought...

Testing confirming wasting disease among deer in more parts of state February 1, 2020 Colorqdo, The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
... The new results have confirmed the disease in 24 game management units in the state where it previously hadn’t been found. Most of those units are in eastern Colorado ... Thirty-one of the state’s 54 deer herds have a prevalence topping 5%, with 13 of those 31 herds topping 10%...

... A Denver District Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit opposing Colorado wildlife officials’ plan to kill black bears and mountain lions as a way of boosting mule deer populations on the West Slope....

... “You only have to look at what happened to the Wyoming elk population,” Enstrom said. “Their herds have been knocked back to 10 percent of what it was.” ... The proposed initiative calls for wolf management and predation compensation to be paid out of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) wildlife cash fund ...

... Officials with Colorado Parks and Wildlife are asking homeowners to take down anything that could snag wildlife wandering through their property... CPW suggests homeowners take hammocks, rope ladders and swings inside when they are not in use...

Shed-antler restrictions January 1, 2020 Colorado, KKCO-TV
... Collecting shed antlers on all public lands west of I-25 is not allowed until the end of April... Officials say they want to make sure people don't go near them because animals may run, causing them to burn energy that they need the most during this time of year...


Colorado data:  The state estimated 418,000 after the hunt in 2019, down somewhat from the state estimated 433,140 post-hunt in 2018 [also see 2020 Big Game Status Report].  In 2019 the state proposed buck-to-doe ratios as low as 25 to 100.  Another hard winter for 2018-19 but good doe and fawn survival in 2018.  Drought in 2020.  Deer licenses for 2018 were increased by 3 percent to 94,900 with good doe and fawn survival for the year.  During the winter of 2016-17 CPW fed deer to draw them away from the highway.  The deer population estimated at 418,800 in 2017 post-hunt, down from about 436,000 in 2016 in part as a result of a harsh winter.  There are many estimates of long-term deer population declines with estimate putting the population at a third of what it was in the 1990s.  In 2016 the state started a controversial experiment to kill lions and bears to boost deer populations.
     In 2015 about 445,000 deer. The mild winter allowed for better survival, especially in the northwest. The 2014 post-hunt population was estimated at 424,190 compared to 391,000 in 2013.  An estimated 424,000 mule deer in 2015. The objective is 500,000 to 556,000.  Deer are generally doing well in the central and northern mountains.  Low birth rates for deer and elk in the Aspen area, a recent concern.  
Post-hunt Deer
Population Estimate
 2004   600,900
 2005   613,450
 2006   623,760
 2007   538,770
 2008   466,750
 2009   460,520
 2010   430,390
 2011   417,952
 2012   408,010
 2013   390,660
 2014   424,190
 2015   435,660
 2016   418,560
 2017   418,800
2018    433,140
2019    418,000    
From CPW
     About 390,600 mule deer and 20,000 whitetails in 2013 and 2014.  CPW estimated the total deer population fell by 36 % from 613,450 in 2005.  Deer licenses were reduced in 2014 to help boost the population. Licenses were reduced from 130,106 in 2007 to about 80,000 in 2014.  The post hunt deer population in the spring of 2012 was estimated at 408,000 - 418,000 deer. About 461,000 in 2011, 600,000 in 2000.  Mule deer hunters have about a 50 percent success rate.  In 2014, 169,000 hunters applied for Colorado deer licenses. In 2015, 83,200 deer licenses were available, about 400 more licenses than 2014.  A severe winter in 2007-08 reduced populations around the state, a loss of more than 30 percent of the mule deer fawns and does.  The state spent about $2.8 million on emergency feeding.  A mule deer population estimate of 390,660 in 2013, 613,450 in 2006, and 600,000 in the 1980s.  Severed winters reduced deer populations in 1983-84, 1992-93, 1995-96, 2007-08, and 2010-11.
     History   Mule deer distribution from 1750 to 1850 was not much different than today except where historic habitats have been dramatically altered by roads, reservoirs, cities, agriculture, etc [see page 4]. Hunters reported abundant mule deer in the 1870's [see page 7].  By 1903 mule deer populations were low, Colorado began issuing hunting licenses and feeding elk herds in winter. In 1911  Colorado Game and Fish Commissioner James Shinn, wrote  "the more general settling-up of our state, the deer have been killed; until now they must be carefully protected, or they will meet the fate of the buffalo and become entirely extinct."  Bucks were protected until 1918 and antler points restrictions were adopted in 1923.   An estimated 17,000 elk and 45,000 deer in 1929.  

 The current population is one half to one third of the herd size in the 1940's [see page 9] and far below the pre-settlement numbers. A recent peak in 1950. Causes for the decline are thought to include habitat fragmentation and decline quality, a decline of winter range from human population growth, disease, predation from mountain lions, harsh winters in 2007 and 2008, competition from elk, migration barriers, drought, and outdoor recreation. The nation's largest mule deer herd in northwest Colorado has fallen from 105,900 in 2005 to about 32,000. The recent peak estimated at 625,000 mule deer in 1983Does make up about one quarter of the harvest.  The mule deer buck-to-doe ratio was about 31 to 100.  The success rate for the state's 74,000 hunters in 2013 was about 44 percent, about 48 percent in 2014 for 57,000 hunters.  Total deer and elk license revenues in 2013 were about $46 million.   Bucks were 77 percent of the 2014 deer harvest. 
    Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), caused by misfolded proteins, was first observed in 1967 at the Colorado Division of Wildlife Foothills Wildlife Research Facility in Fort Collins among captive deer held in a pen next to sheep with scrapie, also a prion based disease.  It was identified in Wyoming in 1978 at a research lab that had traded deer with Fort Collins.  Also identified in captive elk in these two locations.   First identified in the wild in 1981 in a elk in the Fort Collins area.  In the 1980's it was found in wild mule deer and elk in Colorado and Wyoming. Through the 1990's it spread to Saskatchewan, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Montana. In parts of Northwest Colorado CWD infection rates have increased from about 1 to 2 percent in early 2002 through 2004 to an average of 15 percent in 2017 when the disease was in half of the state's deer herds and one-third of the elk herds..  The first infected deer in southwest Colorado died near Montrose in 2016.  A deer herd around Boulder tested 40 percent positive for males in 2018, the herd population fell from 500 to 300.  Testing around the state at 16 percent of all deer in some areas.  Testing completed in 2019 showed infetion rates of 33.9 and 25 percent in two herds near Fort Collins and it was becoming clear that this disease would be very difficult to eradicate.   As of February 2020, CWD has been detected in 33 of 54 deer herds, 14 of 43 elk herds, and two of nine moose herds.
     Elk  Over 280,000 in 2020.  An estimate of nearly 278,000 elk in 2017, may be over 300,000.  The 2014 post hunt population was estimated at 280,000, about 264,000 in 2013, about 280,000 in 2012, down from the peak of about 305,000 in 2001. More than any other state, a managed decline.  Elk hunters have about a 22 percent success rate.  In 2019 CPW tracked an elk that migrated from Steamboat Strings over the Continental Divide to give birth to her calf.
     The Moose population was above 3,000 in 2017, estimated at 2,995 in 2016, up from 2,400 in 2014.  Colorado's moose population was repopulated starting in the 1970's.  In 1978, state wildlife officers transplanted 24 male and female moose from Wyoming and Utah into North Park in the northern part of the state. By 2012, the breeding population of moose in Colorado was estimated at 2,300.  Moose forage on willows and wetland plants and depend on Colorado’s riparian areas.
     Bear  An estimate of 17,000 in 2017.  The 2015 population was estimated at 17,000 to 20,000.
     During the mid to late 1800's, populations of deer, elk and other species were decimated to feed miners and settlers during the gold rush.  Colorado established a wildlife protection agency in 1879 to set limits and seasons on hunting.
     The mountain lion population estimate from the state was of about 4,000 to 5,500 in 2019 and about 4,500 in 2017.   The Sierra Club puts the estimate at about 3,000 in 2020.  Estimated by the state at 5,000 to 7,000 in 2015 by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.  Estimated at 3,500 to 4,500 in 2015 by MountainLion.org.  
      Wolves were nearly exterminated by the 1930s with the last kill reported the the around 1940.  The first new wolf pups were sited in 2021.  To report a siting to CPW, use this form.  

Report Poaching:  call Operation Game Thief at 1-877-265-6648 or email a tip to game.thief@state.co.us

Other useful links:
​​​​​​​​​​​​Colorado Parks and Wildlife 2015 Strategic Plan
- Colorado Mule Deer Story prepared to help understand declining mule deer populations
Colorado Mule Deer Association

Historical Deer Population
"Historical records testify to the original abundance of mule deer encountered by early settlers ... As a result of this large-scale harvesting, the Colorado Territory established its first wildlife protection agency in 1879 ... mule deer populations didn't fully rebound until after the dust bowl era of the early to mid 1930s. While exact numbers were not collected until the 1970s, wildlife professionals generally agree that herds reached modern highs in the 1940s, with populations between two or three times as large as the current 2012 post-hunt estimate of 420,000." John Ceballos