ONTARIO — While high elk numbers were of concern at the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting Friday in Ontario, declining number of mule deer in eastern Oregon was another concern.

In his presentation at the first part of the meeting, Darren Clark, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife researcher said the reasons for a decline in the number of mule deer include increasing competition from elk and an increasing number of predators, mainly cougars and coyotes. Elk tend to push the deer toward roads, Clark said.

Other issues contributing to the decline in numbers of mule deer include a reduction in quality and quantity of winter range and inadequate nutrition on summer range.

Numbers show that numbers of mule deer in the region were up around 300,000 in about 1981 and but had dipped below 220,000 in 2012, according to a graph in Clark’s report, which was shown during the commission’s meeting at Four Rivers Cultural Center.

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