Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2017

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Steve Vanderheiden

Second Advisor

Carol Wessman

Third Advisor

Dale Miller


In 2014, Colorado Parks & Wildlife enacted a multi-pronged strategy with the intention of mitigating threats to the mule deer population. This species has declined in recent decades across the state of Colorado. Various public meetings provided input that predation and degraded habitat were some of the most important factors to mitigate. In 2016, CPW attempted to do just that with the Piceance Basin predator control study. In this study, black bears are included as a predator species to be removed from the designated area in order to determine if mule deer populations respond positively. This case’s issues, however, are that the prior public meetings were overwhelmingly held in rural places, and garnered little input from urban residents. Coupling this issue with CPW’s second strategy goal of mitigating developmental impacts has left it on the defense. This is because many residents, as expressed in meetings as well as my study, felt that energy development destroyed valuable mule deer habitat. Since the agency’s research has suggested otherwise, my goal is not to dispute this but rather, question the lack of holistic research in the heavily developed predator control area. Most residents like black bears, and the effects of energy development on this species has not been explored. My paper has provided a solution that mediates some of the most contentious issues. It involves a newly proposed fund for predator research. By conducting a survey, I determined that public receptivity to additional wildlife funding exists and there are options to pursue it.