Colorado Deer Population:  An estimated 436,000 deer in 2016, a decline in part as a result of a harsh winter.  In 2015 about 445,000 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 391,000 in 2013.  Herd analysis at right.  Historical Colorado deer hunting data and news archive. 

Colorado Deer News

Deer Raised by Family Forced to Return to Wild December 4, 2016 Colorado, WesternSlopeNow
... found Miss Buck when she was just a fawn, injured by some barbed wire ... CPW has plans to relocate Miss Buck into natural deer habitat, but the Woodhams family is afraid she won't survive in the wild...

...  will be flying at low levels throughout the state's southeast region in order to get a bearing on how deer and elk populations are progressing compared to the agency's desired population models...

... offering a $5,000 reward for information ...

Video shows deer chasing bobcat through backyard November 16, 2016 Colorado, KSL.com
... was filming a bobcat in the yard when a deer began chasing it. The brief pursuit ended when the bobcat jumped over some shrubs and hid beside an air conditioning unit...

Boulder, Possible illegal deer shooting investigated in Boulder's Eldorado Springs November 7, 2016 Colorado, Boulder Daily Camera
... illegal shooting of a deer on city open space in the Eldorado Springs area Sunday... shot illegally and then just left to die there ...

Fort Morgan Times
... Game Management Unit No. 43 ... generates more than 20,000 big game hunting licenses every year ... That large number of licenses means people will pour into the area in search of that trophy buck or elk ...

Colorado’s wild places: Deer today, gone tomorrow? October 29, 2016 Denver Post, Sarah Reed
... increasing residential development was the most important factor associated with declining mule deer populations across western Colorado... as nearly 2.5 million acres of deer habitat was converted to housing between 1980 and 2010, the number of fawns per adult female deer declined by 23 percent. We found that expanding energy development was also associated with decreases ...
     Killing bears and cougars isn't ideal, but the data is important October 28, 2016 Colorado, The Denver Post
... hiring specialized contractors to kill bears and cougars in the Roan Plateau and Arkansas Basin areas to help the dwindling mule deer population in the area ... research has indicated that it isn’t habitat encroachment from the oil and gas industry causing the decline, and at this point they aren’t sure what the issue is [this statement is not true, see research below or at this link] ...

... The statewide population is 110,000 short of the 560,000 deer that wildlife managers deem optimal for the state... CPW hasn’t taken a position on a federal Bureau of Land Management plan to allow up to 15,000 new oil and gas wells on prime deer habitat in northwestern Colorado...

... There are currently 31 wildlife underpasses (and/or overpasses) across Colorado ... Sometimes, we can utilize culverts or bridges that are already in existence ...

...a “predator control” push aimed at saving fawns... The National Wildlife Federation, a hunting and conservation group, emphasizes habitat loss and fragmentation as a primary cause of the decline of Colorado deer. And state biologists have determined that oil and gas drilling in deer habitat is hurting the ability of deer to recover...

Rocky Mountain Deer Forecast for 2016 October 11, 2016 Colorado, Game and Fish
... Andy Holland, Colorado Parks and Wildlife big game manager, told me the current deer population is about 436,000... deer herds seem to have survived the winter in good condition....

Energy development is not impacting survival of deer in Piceance October 9, 2016 Colorado, Glenwood Springs Post Independent
... Ongoing research in the Piceance Basin indicates there is little to no negative impact on mule deer survival from energy development, according to a leading researcher with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.  That message, conveyed last week at a Garfield County Energy Advisory Board meeting ... “It does alter their behavior,” ...


...  deer was spotted Aug. 24 drooling and spinning in circles ... because testing is expensive, no other diseases were looked for at the lab in Fort Collins, so it’s unclear why the animal displayed unusual behavior...

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Public Meeting September 15, 2016 WesternSlopeNow
... Colorado Parks and Wildfire want public input regarding a proposal to kill mountain lions and black bears, in response to declining mule deer populations... For those who cannot attend the meeting, but still want to offer input, send an email to dnr_cpwcommission@state.co.us.

A young Mule Deer in Colorado Springs get help from a flock of Magpies who are eating parasites off his back. - September 13, 2016 Colorado


Change the focus of mule deer strategy September 9, 2016 Colorado, Boulder Daily Camera
... two flaws with Colorado Parks & Wildlife's (CPW) mule deer strategy ... CPW lightly mentions habitat improvements but heavily weighs on the "control" of predators... a person can only get on this board by executive order by the governor, not by a vote; this policy needs to be abolished! ...

CPW sees opportunity in latest mule deer study August 25, 2016 Colorado, High Plains Journal
... A negative relationship between residential development, oil and gas development and certain weather conditions and early winter recruitment of mule deer fawns (annual December doe:fawn ratios) was reported. As residential development increased, the association of decreasing early winter recruitment of young mule deer was about twice that of other factors like energy development or weather factors...

Never use pellets to fight pellets August 25, 2016 Colorado, Durango Telegraph
... It is illegal to shoot deer that are eating landscaping in Colorado. At minimum this would be wildlife harassment and could be considered unlawful hunting...   Permanent fencing around the plants to keep out deer is likely the best long-term solution.  Electric fencing could be set up on either a permanent or short-term basis...

Euthanized deer to be tested for chronic wasting disease August 24, 2016 Colorado, The Durango Herald
... A deer that was “acting strangely” was euthanized Wednesday in Durango, and is being sent as a precautionary measure to test for chronic wasting disease ... ound the animal covered in ticks and it was approaching people, so the decision was made to euthanize it...

The delicate balance of managing wildlife August 24, 2016 Colorado, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
... State wildlife officials want to reduce the number of bears and cougars in a 500-acre area of the Roan Plateau to see if survival rates of mule deer fawns improve... fawn weights going into winter have improved... But deer populations remain at about a third of what they were before a big decline in the 1990s ...

CPW to host license fee meeting Wednesday August 21, 2016 Colorado, Steamboat Pilot & Today
... CPW anticipates budget shortfalls, which could be offset by increasing resident license fees. The last increase occurred in 2006 after legislative approval the year before. Since 2009, CPW has cut or defunded 50 positions and cut $40 million from its operating budget...

Predator pushback August 21, 2016 Colorado, The Daily Sentinel
... “Our deer population has really, really crashed,” ... The latest estimate of Colorado’s mule deer population is just under 450,000 ... The agency says the most significant decline has been in northwest Colorado’s Piceance Basin, home to the state’s largest migratory deer herd... deer populations remain at about a third of what they were before populations plummeted in the 1990s ...

Proposed predator control study stirs strong opinions August 18, 2016 Colorado, Craig Daily Press
... mule deer population ... in the White River National Forest are down almost 50 percent from peak numbers roughly 25 years ago... The proposed Piceance Basin study involves monitoring fawn survival in two adjacent areas over three years. One of those areas, a small summer range on the Roan Plateau, would have controlled predator removal before and during the fawn birthing period in May and June...

... Colorado’s highest population estimate occurred in 1983, when deer numbers reached an estimated 625,000 and today the population is under 400,000... In the case of northwest Colorado, some suggest that on-going oil and gas development could be the cause in the recent deer decline. ...

Developed Predator Management Plan to Save Mule Deer August 11, 2016 Colorado, Mia's Motivations
... One component of the strategy is predator control in areas where where mule deer populations remain below objective. Beginning in 2017, CPW researcher Chuck Anderson will begin a three-year study to monitor the results of predator control on the Roan Plateau. To learn details about the project, the public is invited to a discussion with CPW officials at the Garfield County Fairgrounds, South Hall, Tuesday, Aug. 16 at 6 p.m...

Colorado will kill bears and lions to boost deer herds August 9, 2016 Summit County Citizens Voice
... Colorado wildlife managers say they are set to start a three-year study on whether killing bears and mountain lions can help boost deer populations in the northwestern part of the state, where hunting is a big part of the local economy...

ll work and no play wouldn't be much fun. Although working traffic for an hour, this herd of 100 or so Elk was fun to assist as they crossed Trail Ridge Road. Tundra Guardians at work!! - August 8, 2016 Colorado


Moose flourishing in Colorado August 7, 2016 Aspen Daily News
... moose are now estimated to number around 2,550 in Colorado. That figure is up from 2,400 in 2014, and is the result of numerous reintroduction programs, the first of which began in the late 1970s in the North Park area near Walden...

Chronic Wasting Disease discovered in one deer in Montrose County July 28, 2016 Colorado, High Plains Journal
... Colorado Parks and Wildlife says it found a deer that was infected with Chronic Wasting Disease just east of the city of Montrose in Game Management Unit 65.
The deer, found last spring, died on private property ...

Gray wolves expected back in Colorado July 26, 2016 Glenwood Springs Post Independent
...  the last known gray wolves in Colorado were killed by about 1940... Wolves once fed on Colorado’s​ vast herds of bison, elk and deer, supplemented by rabbits, rodents and carrion, according to CPW...

Rise in fawn deaths evens out good years; all other game thriving July 25, 2016 Colorado, Rio Blanco Herald Times
... the amount of snow that fell throughout Northwest Colorado... an increase of 10 to 15 percent in still-born deer and fawns that just didn’t survive ... That’s pretty much attributable completely to the heavy snows ... The elk are doing just fine ...

... landowners in the agricultural industry and sportsmen who do not welcome competition with another predator in securing elk or deer each hunting season. On the other are those who champion the wolf and its right to be in its prior location and desire a return to a historically more realistic and native ecosystem... Colorado Parks and Wildlife remains opposed to a (wolf) reintroduction ...

Increases in residential and energy development are associated with reductions in recruitment for a large ungulate HE Johnson, JR Sushinsky, A Holland, EJ Bergman… - Global Change Biology, 2016 Colorado
... Using linear mixed models, we found that increasing residential and energy development within deer habitat were correlated with declining recruitment rates, particularly within seasonal winter ranges. Residential housing had two times the magnitude of effect of any other factor we investigated, and energy development had an effect size similar to key weather variables known to be important to ungulate dynamics. This analysis is the first to correlate a demographic response in mule deer with residential and energy development at large spatial extents ... western Colorado ...

Chronic wasting disease discovered in deer east of Montrose July 21, 2016 Colorado, The Durango Herald
... Chronic wasting disease has been introduced to Southwest Colorado ... Southwest Colorado has evaded it until now ... Chronic wasting disease has been detected in 77 of Colorado’s 186 game management units...

The Colorado firefighter seen on video rescuing a baby deer talks to CNN's Piers Morgan. July 21, 2016 Colorado


Three charged for poaching large deer in Colorado July 21, 2016 Colorado, Colorado Springs Gazette
... Poaching a deer with an antler spread of 22 inches or more can add $10,000 in penalties over the standard fines under the "Samson Law" in Colorado.

Houses, drilling take toll on deer July 19, 2016 Colorado, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
... a study by Colorado Parks and Wildlife ... biologists have watched deer ranges get encroached by new homes, roads, and gas and oil wells, at the same time as deer numbers have declined... Housing had more than twice the magnitude of effect of any factor investigated ...

Grace stalks a dangerous mule deer during her safari to Evergreen Colorado. No dolphins were harmed during the making of this video. July 19, 2016


... The fee increase would be the first for CPW since 2006 ... would increase the cost of a regular fishing license to $50 and adjust the cost of hunting licenses for the rate of inflation. According to a flier distributed at the meeting, the proposed cost of an elk license would be $88...

Wasting disease found in deer July 12, 2016 Utah, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
... found in a deer that died this spring near Montrose ... first time a deer infected with the disease has been found in southwest Colorado...
... Wasting disease has been present in northern Colorado, for many years. It has also been found on the plains and in some areas of central Colorado... 

Fawn euthanized after being adopted by Cheyenne family July 9, 2016 Wyoming, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle News
... Animal Control believed the fawn was the offspring of a doe that had been killed by a car nearby, and an Animal Control officer helped the family retrieve the deer to keep temporarily, as the agency didn’t have a place for the fawn... KGWN-TV did a story on the family caring for the deer, and that’s when Game and Fish came in ... said Lucky had to be euthanized...

Fort Morgan, Deer causes commotion in Fort Morgan June 24, 2016 Colorado, Fort Morgan Times
... the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife confirmed to the Fort Morgan Times that the deer was fine following its rescue from the pit, with the wildlife officer having "pulled it out and let it loose." ...

... demanding that public land management policies in the Roaring Fork Valley be scrutinized to ensure recreation isn’t trumping wildlife preservation...  The entire Roaring Fork Valley is summer range for mule deer.  The BLM plan acknowledges that the Crown is elk winter range and includes some areas of severe mule deer winter range...

On Tuesday night this week, a wayward fawn ran inside a Colorado man’s home and hid in his bathtub. The man reportedly had just freed the baby deer from being caught in a fence when it ran through the open door of his home in the town of Evergreen and hopped into the tub. After two Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies checked the fawn for injuries, they wrapped it in a blanket and set it free outside, where it reportedly scampered off, hopefully to reunite with its mother. - June 16, 2016 Colorado


Deer-culling program gets extended June 13, 2016 Colorado, Elbert County News
...  the Elizabeth Board of Trustees voted to continue the town’s Deer Management Program for another season.  Initiated in the fall of 2014, the program that allows limited hunting of deer within designated areas inside the Elizabeth town limits ...

... a proposal by the Southwest Colorado Cycling Club that would add 25-30 miles of trails ... disturbing wintering grounds for mule deer... Seasonal closures may be part of the new regulations to protect winter-deer habitat...

... The Walker Ranch conservation is one of the largest, most successful such projects, creating a buffer against development along more than 20 miles of the Fort Carson boundary ... habitat for the ferruginous hawk, scaled quail, burrowing owl, Cassin's sparrow, mule deer and pronghorn antelope...


... In less than a one-mile stretch in northwest Colorado, dead elk litter the ground...  deer and elk struggle through the deep, compact snow... one of the more severe winters we've had in at least the last 10 to 15 years ...

Game Animal Management Efforts Give Mixed Results April 7, 2016 Colorado, Pagosa Daily Post
... Deer and elk hunters in Colorado ... Nearly $2 million from these fees support wildlife management and public land conservation in the state each year...  “If you can find synergies between management for hunted species and conservation for biodiversity, we would be more effectively and holistically managing the land.” ...

Snowed in  April 3, 2016 Colorado, April 4, 2016 The Daily Sentinel
...  Velarde and the Northwest Region field staff earlier this year reported seeing deer, elk and pronghorn trapped by deep snow...  going to see some mortality in some older does as well as some fawns and calves ... despite its ominous start, won’t be remembered as being as difficult as the memorable winters of 1983-84 or 2007-08...

How BLM Regulations Are Made—and Why It Needs to Change April 3, 2016 Colorado, Field and Stream 
...  in the recent draft environmental impact statement for the agency’s White River District in western Colorado, which has been the scene of expedited oil and gas permitting, the BLM claimed the local mule deer herd numbered 106,000 ... “Colorado Parks and Wildlife had recent research showing the herd was actually around 43,000,” ...

Colorado land preservation: Racing to save nature amid growth March 29, 2016 The Denver Post
... Colorado land groups recently locked up 86,000 acres, racing to save nature amid a boom in population growth and development... e 1,840-acre North Park Registered Herefords Ranch, near Walden, which has run for more than 100 years in an area where elk, deer and moose thrive...

The shambled state of Front Range wildlife rehabilitation March 12, 2016 Colorado, Daily Camera
... The killing of this fawn in Boulder County is indicative of the shambled condition of wildlife rehabilitation in the Front Range. The fact that there are no rehabilitation facilities in the Front Range that are licensed to treat deer is a tragedy...

2 deer possibly poached near Hanover, Colorado  March 1, 2016 Colorado, High Plains Journal
... Colorado Parks and Wildlife is seeking information on a possible poaching ...  report of two dead deer that had been dumped along Hanover road in eastern El Paso County...  killed on, or around, Jan. 13...

Illegal hunts on the rise in Colorado February 19, 2016 FOX31 Denver
... A southern Colorado outfitter accused of running an illegal big game hunting operation appeared in court recently on charges he lured deer and elk to a ranch in Las Animas County by feeding them..

Popularity of antler hunting leads to restrictions February 18, 2016 Coloradi, Post Independent
... “Shed Wars” is a television show ... “follows the stories of five of the best shed hunting teams in America ... Winter wildlife ranges in those areas have become islands surrounded by a growing number of humans, who are venturing into those ranges to recreate, potentially increase the stress on animals during an already difficult time ...

... Ranchers are feeding elk to help them survive, and deer are foraging for scraps that are left behind ...

Popularity of antler hunting leads to restrictions February 14, 2016 Colorado, Post Independent 
... Winter wildlife ranges in those areas have become islands surrounded by a growing number of humans, who are venturing into those ranges to recreate, potentially increase the stress on animals during an already difficult time ...

Two Deer Possibly Poached Near Hanover, Colorado February 8, 2016 The Prowers Journal
...  two dead deer that had been dumped along Hanover road in eastern El Paso Count ... around January 13 ...  Operation Game Thief hotline: 1 (877) 265-6648...

     Capture and translocation are important tools for managing and studying large ungulates. Although widely used, many established field practices cause fear and stress in subject animals that can hamper overall effectiveness and safety...  For extended tranquilization (during transport and overnight holding), adding a sustained-release haloperidol formulation provides calming effects for at least 24–48 h. In our assessment, appropriate and adaptive use of these tranquilizer combinations benefits captured animals without impeding management or research goals

Colorado data: About 436,000 deer in 2016, a decline in part as a result of a harsh winter.  In 2015 about 445,000. 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. Populations declined from 2005 into 2013.
     About 390,600 mule deer and 20,000 whitetails in 2013 and 2014.  CPW estimated the total deer population fell by 36 % from 614,000 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. 
     The current population is one half to one third of the herd size in the 1940's and far below the pre-settlement numbers.   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 1983. Does make up about one quarter of the harvest.  The mule deer buck-to-doe ratio is 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 detected 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. 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.
     The 2014 post hunt elk 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.
    The pronghorn post-hunt estimate for 2014 was 73,000 up from 66,000 in 2013 and at about the state objective of 67,000 to 76,000.
     The moose population was estimated at 2,550 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.
     The 2015 bear 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  estimated 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 exteriminated by the 1930s with the last kill reported the the early 1940s.  Wolves are in neighboring states and may soon be seen in Colorado.  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
Tweet on this timeline using #Colorado #Deer

Tweets about deer in Colorado


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 

Tweets about Colorado Parks and Wildlife



Mule deer captured by a helicopter for a Colorado Parks and Wildlife study

Draft SCIF Mule Deer 2