A mule deer monitoring project begins in Wyoming. Starting back in mid-January, The WGFD started a mule deer monitoring project in the North Bighorn Mountains. The monitoring project looks to see why mule deer have been on the decline throughout the state. Likewise, this project hopes to identify possible solutions.

Mule deer numbers throughout the west have been on a steady decline, and Wyoming is no different. The state’s peak mule deer population was in 1991, with 578,000 animals. Sadly, during the most recent count, in 2016, only 396,000 animals called the state home.

North Bighorn Herd Project

This project will be conducted in partnership with the University of Wyoming’s Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources,  the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit, and the Wyoming State Veterinary Lab. The overall goal is to collect a plethora of data on five mule deer herds around Wyoming. This monitoring project will run throughout these herds for the next five herds.

Some of the tools in the biologist’s bags are as follows, increased ground and aerial population surveys, over 1000 animals will be radio-collared, and health checkups will be performed.

Overall 210 animals will be collared in the North Bighorn Herd. This area encompasses Deer Hunt Areas  24, 25, 27, 28, and 50-53. Captures will also take place on both the east and west sides of the northern Bighorn Mountains. These mule deer will be captured with a net that will be fired by personnel that will be riding in helicopters. Likewise, these captures will also take place on both public and private lands.

The goal is to collar 100 fawns, 80 does, and 30 bucks during the capture process. Once the collars are attached they will send a location point every two hours. These location points will result in many thousand data points for biologists to analyze once the collar falls off the deer.

Data gathered in coming years from the Mule Deer Monitoring Project will help wildlife managers better measure herd performance, assess causes of mortality, evaluate harvest strategies, update seasonal range maps, and more.

You can read more about this project by clicking here. Likewise, you can read more Wyoming hunting news by clicking here.

What are your thoughts on this project? Have you helped with a mule deer conservation project lately? Let us know in the comments!


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