Pinedale Wildlife Biologist Dean Clause, along with area game wardens, recently completed the annual post-hunt season deer survey for the Sublette mule deer herd around Pinedale. As was hoped, the number of fawns improved significantly with 71 fawns being counted for every 100 does. This is a welcome improvement from the 49 per 100 does counted last year following the hard winter of 2016-17. The overall proportion of bucks seen also improved to 37 bucks:100 does.
Managers do not attempt to make a population estimate based on the total number of deer counted during the survey as it is just a sizeable sample, but the overall number of deer seen and counted does tend to provide a picture of the population trend. The overall sample size of deer classified this year is very similar to the count in 2017, which is lower than most years and again attributed to the significant losses during the 2016-17 winter. While deer numbers are still down overall, the higher number of fawns bodes well for the continued recovery of the herd.
Wildlife managers will likely continue to propose conservative hunting seasons, but what the herd really needs to bounce back is successive years of mild winters and high fawn survival. The Game and Fish will be holding public meetings in local communities in early 2019 to update the public with the latest numbers and trends for the herds. Look for further announcements with the details on when and where these meetings will take place.