Within the last 3 years, the number of mule deer on the Mesa winter range in Pinedale Anticline has dropped by a dismaying 46 percent, Western EcoSystems Technology Inc. reports. The culprit behind this undesirable phenomenon is the developing natural gas in western Wyoming, forcing the deer into less suitable winter range and affecting the animals’ movements in their desirable area. Models and maps shows that the deer tended to favor areas further away from well pads through the last three years. From such behaviors the researchers conclude that drilling restrictions may not be achieving what land managers had intended. This decline on the Mesa was attributed to deaths, changes in the deer’s birth and their movement to new wintering range. The researchers couldn’t by now spot the extent to which these factors contributed to the decline.