Feb 23, 2012 “Low Water Crossing”

Day 23

Low Water Crossing

Painting A Day

Day 23

“Low Water Crossing”

Our first trip to the Rockies, I met a retired contractor who had taken up photography as a second career.  Bill made regular trips to the Rockies and was gracious enough to sorta take me under his wing for the weekend, allowing me to try out his Canon zoom lens, tell us where to find various wildlife in the park, and share stories of some of his adventures there.  He mentioned then, that the Mule deer population still was rather small and that the few deer that were seen, didn’t seem very big.  We had also noticed that most of the Mulies we saw were also wearing ear tags.  Fast forward a few years to last year’s trip…..it literally seemed like there were Mule deer everywhere in the park!  Either we were very lucky or they have definitely made an excellent comeback!

Upon their arrival in the early 1860s, the first Estes park area settlers found moderately abundant numbers of mule deer. The growing population of newcomers, predators, and the often harsh elements took huge numbers of the animals. By 1895, according to one report, very few mule deer were seen in the Estes Park region, and “I heard of none in the foothills of Boulder and Larimer counties in 1906.”

Mule deer became so scarce throughout Colorado that in 1913, a statewide hunting ban was put in effect. Dedication of Rocky Mountain National Park in 1915 and the subsequent removal of most predators resulted in a dramatic increase in the mule deer population. In 1930 an estimated 2,500 roamed the park.

Today several hundred mulies reside in Rocky Mountain National Park. The park’s population is believed to be stable or increasing.

Mule deer play an important role in the wildlife food chain. They are the primary prey of mountain lions. Mule deer also can be taken by coyotes and bobcats. Unfortunately several also fall victim each year to a mechanized predator, the automobile. “  –Courtesy of Rocky Mountain National Park (www.rmnp.org)

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