24 replies [Last post]
bitmasher's picture
Offline
Moderator
Location: Colorado
Joined: 02/27/2002
Posts: 2973
Mule deer declining population

I'm disturbed at the decline in the muley population. I have read several articles in the rocky mountain section that suggest the muley herd is falling across the western states.

Anybody read why this is? Predation? Most of what I have read suggests that they don't really know why the herd is decreasing in size.

[ This Message was edited by: bitmasher on 2003-05-19 21:06 ]

Offline
Location: Henderson,Nv.
Joined: 05/25/2003
Posts: 22
Mule deer declining population

ALL Western states are in the "Same Boat"as for the Muley population.The DRY YEARS are taking there toll,loss of Habitat,especially Winter Grounds and Predation have to be at the top of the "LIST"of "Why".F&G Dept/Div have taken notice finally in Az. and Nv.cutting tag Quotas for 2003 Seasons.Sportsmen outcry for "Predator Control" in Nevada has begun and each and every biggame applicant know pays an additional $3.00 for each tag applied for,with this monies going only for "Predation Problems"its a Start,but several WET years will be the best CURE all for poor Deer numbers---

bitmasher's picture
Offline
Moderator
Location: Colorado
Joined: 02/27/2002
Posts: 2973
Mule deer declining population

Yeah, I hear you. I think the drought has hit hard for the muley the last few years. Especially in AZ, NM, and NV, you all have been very dry.

I don't think the drought says it all though, because the declining occured before the last few years.

Well whatever it is, it would be nice to see more mule deer.

expatriate's picture
Offline
Location: Arizona
Joined: 10/26/2002
Posts: 3207
Mule deer declining population

I sometimes wonder if these biologists are the same people who explain economic downturns. I've heard drought blamed for declining populations before, but on the other hand I saw Idaho blame its declining population a few years ago on wet winters that starved out deer herds. If it's wet, the winter browse is covered, but if it's dry, the summer browse is gone.

I'd like to see someone define optimal climate for deer herds and come up with a predictive model of herd size as a factor of precipitation. It's interesting that states will sometimes attribute declines to sub-normal precipitation for their state, yet those precipitation levels may be well above those in drier states where the deer are doing fine. I sometimes wonder if the moisture theory is low hanging intellectual fruit that PhDs pick to avoid having to say "I don't know."

Location: Utah
Joined: 02/24/2003
Posts: 596
Mule deer declining population

I read an article I think in Field and Stream, not sure now but anyway they had lots of theories but it seems no one is really sure why the muley population is dropping. The wierd thing is all my hunting areas seem to be on the increase. Maybe I'm just learning to hunt them better but I see more deer now than a few years ago. What about everyone else? Do you see more or less deer now than say 5-10 years ago?

bitmasher's picture
Offline
Moderator
Location: Colorado
Joined: 02/27/2002
Posts: 2973
Mule deer declining population

I see fewer than 5-10 years ago for sure. That is pretty subjective though. The DOW has some data going back to 1949 on the muley herd here in CO:

http://wildlife.state.co.us/huntrecap/HistoricalHarvest/deer_1949to2000.htm

The most recent harvest numbers are way off from the 1963 high of 147,848. That number blows me away.

1990 wasn't bad though at 90,000 head.

Offline
Location: bethany mo.
Joined: 03/15/2006
Posts: 45
Mule deer declining population

I didnt see a decline 2004 in sheridan area. The problem was they were all doe. in one alfhlfa field counted 50 doe and fawns. lol

Offline
Location: Idaho
Joined: 02/28/2006
Posts: 162
Mule deer declining population

I live in Idaho and the last seven years have been a major drought. The winter ranges have been hit pretty hard. I also personally believe that farmers have become too efficient. They burn their wheat stubble and leave very little standing in the way of corn stubble and alfalfa. Not bashing farmers here, I realize it's hard to make a living as a farmer but around here deer depend on grazing in winter fields because the cattle really clean up the desert. No proof, just an observation. I do believe they fish and game need to open up more doe hunts to thin out some of the does and make the herds a little healthier. There are no general rifle seasons on does and only a few draw hunts.
Hank

Don Fischer's picture
Offline
Moderator
Location: Antelope, Ore
Joined: 03/24/2005
Posts: 3187
Mule deer declining population

deer numbers are really down where I live. Nobody seem's to know why. I have my own theory that is to much inbreeding has created unhealthy deer herds. Fish and game manages them, in Oregon anyway, to create more product. Product being deer to shoot. To do that, far to many does are living to be inbred. We're not really incouraged all that much to shoot does.

When I first moved to where I am now, the local biologist told me we had 100 does per buck. Now I don't believe for one second one buck can service that many does and told him so. He agreed and told me he watched spikes and forks breeding what he believed were their mothers all the time.

I think that real quality hunting requires not only good food but control of the does also. We seem to have an adversion to shooting the females of a species if it's easily recognizeable. By not doing so and allowing in breeding to go on as it does, the herd must be weakened.

I don't think that preditor's are near the problem they are given credit for being. I think most carcasas that have a preditor on them are animals found dead or young that died at birth. Then too deer are exceptable to scour's same as cow's but we can't vacinate them. So a fawn dies of scours, we see a coyote on it and assume it's a preditor kill, not necessarily so.

If you want better quality hunting, we need less deer. Just a thought!

Offline
Moderator
Location: Kentucky/ Colorado
Joined: 06/23/2005
Posts: 1742
Mule deer declining population

The drought has sure taken its toll on Mule Deer. Coyotees kill a lot more fawns then we give them credit for. Kansas had a 80% mortality rate a few years back and the number 1 culpret was Coyotees. They started killing off Coyotees and the mule deer population started rebounding.
Mountain Lions kill a lot of deer too. Biologists that have studied these cats have found out that the #1 foodsource for them is deer and they kill on the average of one deer per week. In the summer, they'll kill a deer every 5-6 days, due to the fact that Mountain Lions do not eat tainted meat.
So if you do the math, those numbers are astounding, especially when you consider, for example in Colorado we have between 2,000 and 4,000 Adult, Deer eating Mountain Lions.

Location: Colorado
Joined: 07/08/2006
Posts: 260
Mule deer declining population

We could go on forever on the declining numbers for mule deer loss of habitat, drought conditions, competition for food infringment from elk and whitetails in some areas lack of wintering grounds wolves coyotes bears the mule deer is a very vulnerable species to say the least I just hope that we never loose huntign them due to low numbers

Related Forum Threads You Might Like

ThreadThread StarterRepliesLast Updated
ELK vs MULE DEERsgutierrez804/25/2012 09:54 am
My Friends DeerBull Buster1112/29/2010 19:39 pm
Flat land Mule Deergroundhog1507/23/2010 10:25 am
Mule Deer eyeguards.bigbucks8501/07/2007 13:13 pm
New Mexico Unit 30 Mule Deercorr33010/24/2012 11:33 am