Bouncy, big-eared icons of the American West, deer are declining rapidly across Colorado and other states — forcing difficult decisions.
The causes vary from energy development to hard winters and aren’t always clear.
But dwindling numbers already have driven cutbacks on deer hunting, reducing potential funds for land conservation.
State wildlife biologists are scrambling to reverse the declines. This is spurring scrutiny of intensifying oil and gas drilling on federally managed deer habitat.