Wyoming Game and Fish Begins Mule Deer Monitoring Project

Wyoming Game and Fish Begins Mule Deer Monitoring Project

Written by on December 9, 2022

Collaring is the first step in an ambitious five-year study to monitor mule deer herds across Wyoming for better information – and better futures for critical wildlife.

Wyoming Game and Fish recently collared Mule deer in the Laramie Mountains herd unit to kick off the groundbreaking Mule Deer Monitoring Project. The project seeks to collect more information on mule deer than ever before — and interpret that data faster and in a more immediate, usable way.

Courtesy Wyoming Game and Fish

Wildlife managers are focusing on five focal herds in the Laramie Mountains, North Bighorn, Sweetwater, Upper Shoshone, and the Wyoming Range.

Many herds targeted by the Mule Deer Monitoring Project have never been intensely studied.

The five-year project will look at six areas considered critical for mule deer management:

  • Abundance
  • Composition
  • Data management
  • Survival
  • Herd health
  • Harvest management

In the last 30 years, mule deer populations have declined to the point that is worrisome to wildlife managers and the public.

Biologists at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department know a significant amount of information about mule deer and what impacts their overall success from decades of research and data collection. Through their research, they are aware that weather, habitat, and chronic wasting disease affect Wyoming’s mule deer populations.

Even with the bulk of information on mule deer and tested management strategies, there are no quick fixes for the decline in mule deer populations. However, biologists at Game and Fish believe new tools and technologies could offer more robust data to inform the management and prosperity of mule deer.

A collaborative study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the University of Wyoming determined mule deer miss out on forage when energy development disrupts their migration corridors. The paper “Industrial energy development decouples ungulate migration from the green wave” has been published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

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