To the Editor:
Bill Bartlett’s publication, “Wildlife census could impact Sisters Country” The Nugget, January 11, page 1) reflects an obvious bias, misleading The Nugget’s readers. Correction is also needed to his description of the January 12 meeting, where it was the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners, not the Planning Commissioners, who met and voted to allow the Wildlife Inventory Update (WIU) to proceed.
Statements made linking the WIU as a threat to development were overstated. According to Commissioner Chang, homes on large development tracts could be clustered in one corner, allowing remaining acreage for deer habitat. (Similar adjustments were done at Caldera Resort to mitigate loss of deer migratory corridors.) Livestock fencing can also be readily modified to make it wildlife friendly. Many other Western states have online resources available under “wildlife friendly fencing.”
Bartlett’s blaming cougar predation as a primary cause of deer decline is incorrect, as are his quoted numbers of cougars in Oregon. Refer to Page 51 of the Cougar Management Plan, updated 2017, stating that there are 3,300 adult cougars, not the 6,000+ so often quoted. ODFW is one of the only state fish and wildlife agencies that counts kittens and juveniles. No other Western agency counts them due to their high mortality rates.
The 1990 census showed Deschutes County human population at 74,958. By 2020, it was 198,253. Since 2002, the mule deer population has decreased by 51 percent. Habitat loss due to development expansion remains the leading cause of deer population declines. For coexistence to succeed, we need to take responsibility for this decline. Deschutes County residents within UGBs are already accepting denser living conditions. Those in rural areas should be willing to make some adjustments too. It’s past time for us to move over a little and allow the wildlife to have spaces to still be wild in.
Wolf Welcome Committee