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Visitors Urged To Respect Wildlife Winter Closures

SISTERS, OR -- The Forest Service reminds people motorized vehicles are not allowed where Wildlife Winter Range closures are in effect. Areas closed for wildlife include Cabin/Silver Lake, Metolius Winter Range, Opine Travel Management Area and Tumalo Winter Range. "They are gated," says Kassidy Kern, with the Deschutes National Forest, "Don’t swing your bike around them, don’t try to drive around them. Really respect those wildlife areas because, while we have a home to go to, that’s their home and we’re in it. So we need to be respectful when we’re there." She tells KBND News the areas are set aside to protect deer and elk at lower elevations, where food is not covered by snow.

"From 2004-2021, we have had a 56% decline in our mule deer populations," says Kern. Many are lost to human disturbance, "That disturbance looks like: we’re smashing them as they’re crossing the road; we’re cutting up places where they might’ve had a migratory path, and now it’s a big subdivision." She adds, "We see so many deer in town and we think, ‘Oh. Well we don’t have a deer issue here. I see them all over my community.’ But you have to understand that the reason we have issues with residential deer is that somewhere along the way the fawn’s mother very likely got hit by a vehicle. And now they don’t know what their migratory path is, so they’re stuck."

Winter Range closures remain in effect through the end of March. Click HERE for detailed closure maps. "This is just one of those things where we love living next to the forest. We love living among the trees," says Kern, "There are some things that we need to be watchful for. And one of those things is making sure that our deer and elk populations can stay at sustainable levels."

 

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