Central Oregon DailyWinter range closures to protect deer, elk habitat begin this week

Winter range closures to protect deer, elk habitat begin this week

Winter range closures to protect deer, elk habitat begin this week

Elk in snow winter

To protect critical habitat for deer and elk, four聽winterrange closures will begin Friday in the Deschutes National Forest.

The closures are happening in the Cabin/Silver Lake, Metolius WinterRange, Opine Travel Management Area and Tumalo聽WinterRange areas. The聽winter wildlife closures will last through March 31.

Motorized vehicles, including snowmobiles and electric bicycles, are prohibited in the closure areas.聽

The public can visit the following links to view maps of the closure areas:

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Here is more from the Deschutes National Forest:

Winter聽range聽is habitat deer and elk migrate to in order to find more favorable living conditions during the聽winter.聽Winterrange聽is found predominantly in lower elevations of central Oregon and is extremely important to elk and mule deer survival.聽Winterranges usually have minimal amounts of snow cover and provide vegetation for forage, hiding cover, and protection from the weather. In Oregon, elk and mule deer migrate, often long distances, to lower elevations to escape or minimize exposure to snow cover.

Local mule deer populations have declined 56% between 2004 and 2021. Human disturbance of deer and elk during the聽winter聽can cause the animals to flee which expends energy from the reserves they鈥檙e relying on to survive through聽winter聽and to successfully provide for young in the spring.

By respecting聽winterrange聽closures, the public can reduce impacts to deer and elk helping to sustain existing populations into the future. Improving habitat quality for deer can preserve the functionality of traditional migratory routes and reduce impacts with nuisance deer in town resulting in more healthy and productive deer populations.

The public can learn more about the importance of聽winterrange聽by visiting聽WinterRange聽Closures聽on the Deschutes National Forest website.

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