Study Looks to Reduce Oil Industry's Impact on Mule Deer
Researchers from Western Ecosystems Technology are conducting a study to examine the effects of oil and gas exploration in the Rosa Mesa area near Navajo Lake on deer mule populations. The seven-year, half-a-million dollar Rosa Mule Deer Study is being funded by WPX Energy. It will be conducted by the Farmington Bureau of Land Management office in partnership with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. The study will use data collected from radio tracking collars worn by the mule deer to determine habitat selection patterns, migration routes and survival rates. The data will be compared to times when oil and gas industry activity was absent. The Rosa area was chosen for the study because mule deer come down from the mountains to spend the winter in fields there that overlap with a large oil and gas industry presence. The mule deer herd in the area migrate a great distance over the year, making data gathered from this study useful for mule deer management in places as far as Colorado, the tribal lands of the Southern Ute and Jicarilla. A spokesperson for the Farmington BLM office said that the study will help oil and gas companies reduce their impact on wildlife while drilling. The study will be completed by 2018. WPX Energy is looking to place 14 new well pads in the area, with 16 horizontal wells per pad.