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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Reno, Nevada » Great Basin Rangelands Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #382905

Research Project: Management and Restoration of Rangeland Ecosystems

Location: Great Basin Rangelands Research

Title: The need to improve mule deer populations: management

item Clements, Darin - Charlie

Submitted to: The Progressive Rancher
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/18/2021
Publication Date: 4/12/2021
Citation: Clements, D.D. 2021. The need to improve mule deer populations: management. The Progressive Rancher. 21(4):18-20.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Mule deer are native to North America and are the primary big game species in Nevada and other western states. Mule deer are a valuable economic resource for State, County and local communities through their recreational opportunities. Management of mule deer is critical to provide and continue recreational and hunting opportunities which requires the understanding of population dynamics driven by a complexity of biotic and abiotic factors such as climate, fire, habitat conditions, predation and highway vehicle collisions. Wildlife managers are tasked with the complexity of these factors that are continually changing and intermixing with each other. Limited habitat conditions due to wildfire, stand decadence, pinyon-juniper encroachment, urbanization and migratory corridors are just a a few of the challenges mule deer herds are experiencing. Predation and human-caused mortalities such as vehicle accidents also play a role in the ability of mule deer to sustain and recover following habitat disturbances. The management of mule deer and their habitat is complex as numerous factors play a role in the health, or lack of, of mule deer herds throughout the Great Basin. Understanding that many factors are associated with the health of mule deer herds should be understood and addressed. Improving habitat conditions of summer, transitional and winter ranges can increase fawn production, decrease breeding female mortality, decrease winter mortality, decrease predation, and increase carrying capacity. The efforts put forth today are critical if our future mule deer herds are to have suitable habitat that will be in demand in the near future as well as decades down the road. Habitat conditions though are not the only piece of the pie. Urbanization, agricultural practices, predation, and migratory constraints such as highways can all lead to added mortality of mule deer herds and their ability to produce healthy mule deer populations. Engaging in this important topic and addressing all the pieces of the pie will result in improved mule deer populations, which is good for wildlife and agricultural practices alike.