This spring, the Oregon Department of Fish and Game voted to enact emergency measures to close three controlled deer hunts in the state, losing nearly 1,000 deer tags. It joined Wyoming, which previously voted to decrease deer and pronghorn tags by 11,300, and Utah, which voted to decrease its general season buck tags by 1,000, according to Outdoor Life.
“The decision to decrease tags by state wildlife agencies isn’t necessarily an unusual event,” the outdoor magazine’s author Keegan Sentner wrote. “It’s very common for state agencies to fluctuate in the number of tags they release annually. The bigger concern is the trends behind these decisions, including decreasing populations of mule deer and pronghorn and the continued loss of habitat throughout many western states.”
Other states in the West are likely to follow suit.
“If we continue to lose habitat and don’t continue to have these honest discussions about habitat protection, we just simply are not going to be able to maintain the robust wildlife populations that we all have come to love,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer Brandon Diamond at a wildlife caucus earlier this year.