Mule Deer Winter-Kill Count

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Volunteers assisting the Wyoming Game and Fish Department with the 11th annual deer mortality surveys May 1-2 discovered a significant increase in winterkill over 2003 surveys.

The surveys took place near Cokeville and La Barge, with some 60 volunteers riding horses and hiking on foot to locate the deer mortalities.

Thayne Wildlife Biologist Gary Fralick and Cokeville Game Warden Neil Hymas gave the “crew” a brief history of deer mortality and habitat conditions for the Wyoming Range Mule Deer Herd. Participants were briefed on how to tell if the carcass was a buck or doe and if a fatality was from this winter or previous years.

The goal of the annual surveys is to get an indication of overall loss and what age classes got hit the hardest by the winter conditions. The survey results offer some predictions about what the upcoming hunting season may offer to deer hunters who hunt in the Wyoming Range, Greys River and Smiths Fork.

Kemmerer Game Warden Chris Queen spearheaded the horseback surveyors, while Hymas and Fralick took two separate groups of volunteers on foot.

The surveyors discovered 174 dead deer on the Cokeville and Sage Junction winter ranges, including 44 adults, 128 fawns and two unclassified. On the Big Piney and La Barge winter ranges 86 dead deer were found, including 23 adults, 62 fawns and one unclassified.

Fralick said high deer mortality was expected around the region due to severe winter conditions, no feed for game animals on the crucial winter ranges, poor habitat conditions and the ongoing drought. The G&F thanks all who turned out for the deer mortality surveys and very much appreciates the help in completing such a time-consuming task.