Oil and Gas Development May Have Greater Affect On Mule Deer Than Thought

Written by on August 23, 2019

The Casper Star-Tribune reports oil and gas development throughout Wyoming’s sagebrush habitats may be affecting mule deer well beyond the perimeters of a well pad, per a new study by University of Wyoming researchers.
For each acre of mule deer habitat overtaken by energy-related infrastructure, nearly five additional acres are also compromised, the study concluded.
Scientists have been aware of mule deer’s skittishness around oil and gas sites for some time. The sounds, smells and sights of drilling, along with associated human activity, often deter the sensitive animals from passing through, even in areas replete with foraging opportunities.
For the study, which was conducted in the state’s Green River Basin, a group of scientists monitored 146 deer around several energy sites with an eye on how their subjects foraged for sagebrush.
In the study, oil and gas activity had a resoundingly negative impact on the animal’s foraging patterns. The most destructive disturbance for mule deer came from human activity at energy sites, leading to an over 10 percent decline in foraging, the report stated. What’s more, these repeated interruptions and corresponding habitat loss could affect mule deer population over time.

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