As an avid hunter and conservationist living in Deschutes County for the last 10 years, I have seen firsthand the eye-popping decline in our mule deer herds. ODFW population estimates for the Upper Deschutes and Paulina Wildlife Management Units, which comprise the vast majority of the county, are at a dismal 40% and 24.8% of population objectives respectively.
In August 2021, Deschutes County staff provided the Board of Commissioners with a roadmap of potential options in regards to the county’s goal 5 wildlife inventory maps. At the commission meeting on September 29, 2021, the Board recognized the importance of accurate wildlife inventory maps using today’s best available science and directed staff to update the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Codes.
But here we are, almost a year later, and this can just got kicked down the road again. On Wednesday July 27, 2022, two commissioners made the conscious decision that Psilocybin use, already approved by voters once, was a topic more important to rehash than our local mule deer herds. Granted, it was entirely in their power to direct county staff to do so, but I hope that all Deschutes County conservationists, wildlife lovers and most importantly hunters take note of this decision by Patti Adair and Tony DeBone.
There are many pressing issues in Deschutes County, but apparently for these two commissioners, mule deer can continue to take a back seat. I encourage all Deschutes County residents to take note and vote accordingly in the upcoming November election.