Letter: Low birth rates or high mortality? | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Low birth rates or high mortality?

Low birth rates or high mortality?

Thank you for printing Scott Condon’s Feb. 8 article regarding local deer and elk populations. Attention to the issue is appreciated.

Please clarify that while the headline and text of the article referred to deer and elk birth rates, the aerial survey results cited were not, in fact, measures of birth rate. They provided estimates of fawn-to-doe and cow-to-calf ratios some six months postpartum. The difference is meaningful as only those fawns and calves that survive until winter get counted.

The cited ratio of 53 fawns per 100 does on the north side of the basin could have resulted from a birth rate of 53 per 100 with 0 mortality, or from a birth rate of 200 per 100 with mortality of 147, or, more likely, something between those. The low ratios causing concern do not necessarily result from low birth rates due to weather or forage condition. They might result from high mortality due to traffic accidents or predation. It is convenient for bears, hungry from their long winter naps and still months from berry season, that fawns and calves are born when they are, as vulnerable morsels that won’t be inventoried for six months and therefore not even missed.

The article did a good job pointing out legitimate winter range challenges. Perhaps a follow-up could focus on challenges to summertime survival or newborn deer and elk.

Keep up the good work!

Collin Robinson

Grand Junction

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