I do not expect deer populations to be stable or always increasing, nor that it would be an indication of the health of deer herds. Deer respond to a multitude of variables that affect population levels. Amongst these variables, the availability of browse is one factor.
There can be no doubt that wildfires in recent years has reduced bitterbrush, which in the Methow Valley is the mainstay of mule deer diet all year around. Historic photos show the great abundance of bitterbrush in our shrub-steppe environment is most likely not natural but the result of 100 years, or more, of fire suppression. This has provided for a more numerous deer population but has also created conditions that result in more intense and rapidly spreading wildfire. The intensity of these wildfires is a result, not only of the density of forage, but also the mass of dead wood fuels that create extreme hot conditions that kill root systems that might otherwise recover.
I am more inclined to believe the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s estimates of deer population, 8,000 to 12,000, than opinions based on casual observation and speculation. I also see no indications that deer are experiencing a “starvation event.” Regardless of what the deer population is, who can say what it should be? Herd health is best served by trusting natural processes to keep deer numbers in balance with habitat.
Artificially feeding deer, while well intentioned, has proven not only ineffective but counter-productive. Feeding concentrates deer, bringing more deer in close contact with each other, which makes them more susceptible to the transmission of disease and more vulnerable to predators.
Wyoming may be the worst example of wildlife management. Wyoming’s aggressive anti-wolf management and ungulate feeding program has encouraged the rapid spread of chronic wasting disease, which has now spread to Montana and Idaho. It is a little-understood and fatal disease related to mad cow disease.
Wildlife is better off when we trust natural, environmental and biological processes that created wildlife without our interference.
Thanks for help
I broke my femur at the hip Jan. 19 skiing at Sun Mountain near the Chickadee parking lot. I was very fortunate because several people stopped to help me. I lay on the snow for about two hours, waiting for the ambulance crew to arrive, with the Aero Methow Rescue Service snowmobile ambulance.
During that time a number of people covered me with their coats and made sure that help was alerted. Their presence, throughout my time on the snow alone, was comforting.
I was fortunate, as well, that two medical doctors happened by and remained to assure me that I would be all right. In addition, Brett, of the Sun Mountain ski shop, stayed to coordinate my rescue.
I want to thank everyone involved for their help. I can’t think of a better place than the Methow to break a hip.
Spinners and Weavers grateful
It is never too late to say thank you. After three years the Methow Valley Spinners and Weavers opened the doors for our annual show this past November. It was wonderful that so many people stopped by the guild to see our creative endeavors. It is a joy to display our weavings. We truly appreciate the support you have given us each year.
Methow Valley Spinners and Weavers