A big mule deer buck dusted in snow.

The Biggest Threats to Mule Deer Leave a comment

It’s no secret that mule deer face some severe challenges. Habitat loss, local weather change, strain from predators, continual losing illness, and a bunch of different elements are points for the West’s most iconic recreation animal.

In comparison with elk and whitetails, mule deer are comparatively fragile, which is why the Mule Deer Basis and similarly-minded conservation teams and people have devoted a lot time, power, and cash to serving to defend mule deer from the a number of threats they face in 2023.

Probably the most important developments within the historical past of mule deer conservation was unveiled on the Western Searching and Conservation Expo in early February, when the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Administration introduced a multi-year partnership with MDF that can funnel as much as $65 million into numerous conservation efforts over the subsequent 20 years.

That is on the heels of greater than 300 MDF tasks that tackled about 392,000 acres of habitat work (together with eradicating or modifying 171 miles of fencing) in recent times.

Learn Subsequent: The Key to Fixing Massive-Recreation Migration Conflicts? Roadkill

“This work with the Forest Service and BLM will enable us to vastly enhance the size and scope of MDF’s habitat tasks,” says Mule Deer Basis president and CEO Joel Pedersen.

Although this inflow of money is important, it isn’t a silver bullet for mule deer conservation, notably in the case of among the extra intractable issues confronting them.

Whereas mule deer numbers aren’t fairly the place wildlife managers want to see them, the general inhabitants is hanging in there.  John Carr / USFWS

Even describing the matrix of points precisely is a problem as a result of they overlap and affect one another, and are regionally particular as properly. Points with drought, suburban growth, poaching, and illness are widespread issues that have an effect on a lot of the mule deer’s vary, however manifest otherwise in Arizona, Colorado, and North Dakota.

That stated, listed here are the most important issues dealing with mule deer and what’s being carried out to mitigate them.

How Many Mule Deer Are There?

Earlier than delving into the specifics, it’s value answering this fundamental query. Among the finest sources of knowledge on mule deer and black-tailed deer is the Mule Deer Working Group, which consists of two dozen representatives from Western state, territorial, and provincial companies that handle these deer. 

Of their 2022 Vary-Huge Standing of Black-Tailed and Mule Deer, they estimate there are 3.4 million blacktail and mule deer stretching from Mexico to Alaska, with the biggest populations present in California (475,000), Colorado (416,000), Utah (305,000), Montana (294,000), Wyoming (292,000), and Idaho (282,000). 

Whereas mule deer numbers aren’t the place wildlife managers want to see them, the general inhabitants is hanging in there. 

“In most jurisdictions mule deer and blacktail populations are underneath their goal objectives however—with a couple of exceptions—the populations are secure or rising,” says Jim Heffelfinger, who chairs the Mule Deer Working Group.


Habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation is an overarching situation that encompasses lots of the issues mule deer face. Not surprisingly, for this reason so many initiatives undertaken by the MDF and different critter teams concentrate on habitat.

Drawback: Suburban and Exurban Growth

Nothing hits mule deer more durable than encroachment on summer season and winter vary and the introduction of impediments like roads, fences, and housing that retains them from simply touring between the 2.

A mule deer doe jumps over a wire fence in Wyoming.
Impediments like fencing, roads, and housing developments make migration more durable for mule deer. Tom Koerner / USFWS

We will additionally lump power growth underneath this heading. Whether or not we’re speaking concerning the set up of pure gasoline wells in Wyoming or constructing a wind farm in New Mexico, power tasks (“inexperienced” or in any other case) create issues for mule deer.

Resolution: Fence Removing and Conversion

On the subject of making it easier for mule deer emigrate, fence removing and rehabilitation is a prime precedence.

“The simpler you can also make it for deer to get from the place they’re to the place they should go, the higher,” says Ian Tator, terrestrial habitat supervisor with Wyoming Recreation and Fish Division.  

A shining instance is the work that’s been carried out to take away or rehabilitate greater than 691 miles of fencing within the Pink Desert to Hoback hall, which is the world’s longest mule deer migration route.

To make fencing wildlife pleasant, the purpose is to make the highest wire as little as potential (38 to 42 inches above the bottom) whereas making the underside wire as excessive as potential (16 inches off the bottom is okay; 18 is best). Such fences are nonetheless in a position to comprise livestock.

Resolution: Lowering Collisions with Automobiles

In Wyoming, about 4 p.c of mule deer are killed by motorized vehicle collisions yearly—a loss of life toll that dwarfs what predators kill, experiences Andrew McKean, Out of doors Life’s searching and conservation editor. And that’s only a small slice of the higher roadkill pie throughout the U.S. Annually, roughly 2 million elk, deer, bear, rabbits, raccoons, and different critters meet their demise alongside America’s highways and nation roads.

The set up of “wildlife lodging” fencing and the development of overpasses and underpasses that create a protected method over or underneath highways for wildlife are among the steps being taken to scale back the loss of life toll.

A key part in McKean’s report states: As a part of final December’s federal infrastructure regulation, Congress devoted $350 million over 5 years to the Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program, which goals to incentivize states, municipalities, tribes, and NGOs to submit plans to scale back wildlife mortality within the spots with the largest roadkill issues. That’s along with the $350 billion the regulation appropriated for freeway tasks over the subsequent 5 years.

A wildlife bridge spans a highway in Canada.
Wildlife overpasses and related infrastructure can assist mule deer navigate the hazards of Western roadways. Steve Gadomski / Adobe Inventory

Resolution: Conservation Easements

Conservation easements have been probably the most efficient instruments for mule deer conservation, because it accomplishes the twin objectives of protecting the panorama intact whereas guaranteeing public entry. Usually, a rancher or different landowner will work with their state to buy rights to a good portion of their land, quite than have the property damaged into smaller segments and bought off piecemeal.

It is a win-win in that it supplies landowners with much-needed money to maintain their operation going, whereas defending and conserving important habitat—notably when the subsequent era within the household isn’t fascinated with ranching or farming.

In Montana, sadly, this program is underneath hearth from Gov. Gianforte’s administration, which has reshaped the Montana Land Board with far-right politicians who appear hostile towards this system’s potential to safe easements in perpetuity.

Resolution: Consulting with Builders

States within the intermountain West have historically been very pro-development, whether or not speaking about subdivisions or power exploration. That’s unlikely to vary. However in Wyoming—the place that proclivity is chiseled into the state’s bedrock—there’s an effort to seek the advice of with builders concerning the influence that their proposals may have on mule deer and different wildlife.

Although these efforts don’t have the power of regulation behind them and are purely advisory in nature, such discussions arm builders with data to minimize detrimental outcomes from their tasks.

Two mule deer bedded in sagebrush.
Mule deer depend on sage brush habitat for browse and canopy. Tom Koener / USFWS

Shrubs, Bushes, and Grasses

It’ll come as no shock, I’m certain, to study that the vegetation that mule deer eat, sleep underneath, and stroll round are fairly necessary to their survival. Sage, aspen, and bitterbrush are all important for mule deer, whereas invasive grasses and conifer encroachment are challenges that must be countered.

Drawback: Unproductive Shrub Communities

When shrubs hit a sure age—relying on the particular plant—their dietary high quality drops which makes them much less helpful for mule deer and different wildlife. Hearth suppression (mentioned under) contributes to this situation.

Resolution: Sagebrush Revitalization

Loads of on-the-ground conservation efforts contain shrub mowing and mastication—principally working vegetation by machines that chews it into small items and spits it out. Towing mowers behind massive tractors is expensive and time-consuming, however create exact mosaics of sagebrush that’s ultimate for mule deer and sage grouse.

Drawback: Invasive Annual Grasses

The difficulty with noxious grasses—cheat grass, Ventenata, medusa head, and others—is that they convert habitat that’s good for mule deer into habitat that isn’t. Annual grasses reproduce by seed every year and are unwittingly unfold by individuals by way of roads and trails, in addition to pure means, just like the wind.

Resolution: Rejuvra

This is without doubt one of the extra thrilling developments in mule deer conservation in recent times. Rejuvra is an herbicide sometimes broadcast by helicopter that forestalls invasive annual grasses from rising for a number of years.

It’s comparatively new—barely 5 years previous—and widespread use has solely began within the final couple years, however it’s already yielding good outcomes. In Wyoming alone greater than 100,000 acres of mule deer habitat have been sprayed with it.

A mule deer browsing near a wildfire burn.
A mule deer browses close to a wildfire burn in Utah. George Frey / Getty Photographs

Drawback: Wildfire—Not Sufficient and Too A lot

Many years of fireside suppression mixed with persistent drought throughout a lot of the Southwest have created a serious headache for wildlife managers and conservationists. 

We’ve painted ourselves right into a nook by permitting the quantity of gas to develop to the purpose the place we threat destroying the soil’s potential to nurture flora. Now, when fires do happen, they burn so sizzling that they kill the natural matter within the floor.

Hearth suppression additionally degrades the setting by breaking the pure burn cycle that permits vegetation to rejuvenate and sprout younger, nutritious browse. Aspen is a first-rate instance of a plant that sustains deer and elk and that requires hearth to remain very important and wholesome.

Resolution: Managed Burns

On this case, we all know what the reply is: managed (aka prescriptive) burns, coupled with efforts to skinny timber and scale back extra gas within the panorama.

However executing managed burns on the required scale is frustratingly troublesome. The diploma of coordination required to tug one off is formidable. Everybody from native volunteer hearth departments, landowners, and city officers up by the ranks of federal and state recreation and environmental officers must be on board. And, in fact, the climate must cooperate.

Compounding the issue is the necessity for somebody to truly give the okay—and be accountable for what occurs. The upshot is that burning is a strong, helpful, and vital device, however deploying it on the size wanted is an uphill battle.

Nowhere is hearth extra helpful than within the effort to enhance aspen habitat.

“Aspen wants disturbance to thrive and hearth is the most effective device for that,” says Steve Belinda, chief conservation officer for the MDF. “Any given yr we’re doing hundreds of acres of aspen work. However due to the executive hurdles required to burn, we’re usually doing a whole lot of chainsaw work to chop down conifers and scale back the competitors aspens face. In some situations, we are able to use the conifers as gas for floor burns to stimulate suckers, that means new aspen progress.”

The $60 million funding settlement the MDF signed final week with the U.S. Forest Service goals to chop by a lot of that bureaucratic tangle and expedite forest thinning, prescribed burning, and vegetation therapies that won’t solely assist scale back the chance of catastrophic wildfire within the West but in addition enhance mule deer habitat.

Drawback: Conifers Run Wild

As Belinda alluded to above, when bushes like Douglas fir, piñon pine, and junipers are allowed to develop unchecked, they shade out aspen, mountain mahogany, and different shrubs, degrading mule deer habitat.

Resolution: Chaining and Prescribed Burns

Whereas burning is the perfect approach to deal with conifer encroachment, a whole lot of the work includes reducing them with chainsaws or utilizing a method referred to as “chaining,” the place heavy-duty chains (consider the sort use to anchor an plane service) are strung between massive tractors and dragged over stands of conifers to knock them down.

“In Arizona we undergo a whole lot of piñon-juniper, grinding it up,” says Bob Jacobs, who sits on the board of administrators on the Mule Deer Basis and who owns a hearth safety firm in Flagstaff. “Though piñon-juniper is native, it’s out of proportion to what it needs to be. Hearth suppression, grazing, and drought have spurred the spreading of PJ throughout the panorama. It sucks up water and shades the bottom from mild, not permitting different vegetation to develop.”

Resolution: Forest Thinning

Not all mule deer dwell in arid areas. Sitka blacktails name the rainforests of coastal Alaska dwelling and one of many points they face is the lack of habitat attributable to poor logging practices.

“Prince of Wales Island had 60 years of clear-cutting that created a whole lot of [short term] habitat,” Belinda says. “All that forest is reaching second progress and stem exclusion, which suggests all the daylight is being eaten up by the crown and no mild is attending to the forest ground.”

That’s along side dense grass within the undergrowth that makes the terrain not very useful for animals, Belinda says. “It’s onerous to maneuver by and doesn’t have good groceries.”

As a result of these elusive deer are troublesome to trace and depend, analysis is required to determine the extent of this situation and advocate forestry practices to skinny the maturing second progress and make sure the sufficient fringe areas alongside the seashores that blacktail depend on for meals and canopy.

A mule deer stands near a viewer with a city skyline in the background.
Human growth continues to encroach on mule deer habitat. Ryan Moehring / USFWS

Human Influence

It’s the basic break-up line: It’s not you, it’s me. On this case, it’s us. Within the complicated relationship between individuals—hunters and non-hunters—and mule deer, we’re the issue.

Within the case of hunters, the difficulty is that mule deer are the thing of an excessive amount of consideration and need, making it troublesome for wildlife managers to stability searching alternative whereas sustaining populations of mature males with trophy potential within the context of total herd well being. On the subject of non-hunters, mule deer undergo from indifference and neglect (additionally proximity, as talked about within the growth part above).

Resolution: Dealing With Hunter Expectation

Hunters need alternative. Additionally they need the prospect to take a mature animal. Some hunters worth meat and time afield over antlers whereas others are keen to eat a tag so long as an encounter with a heavy-horned brute is feasible.  

That is a type of dynamics that doesn’t have a clean-cut answer. You’re by no means going to make each hunter completely happy, however that doesn’t imply wildlife managers shouldn’t attempt.

Communication is essential. Prior to each searching season in Wyoming, as an example, Recreation and Fish officers meet with the general public to debate modifications to the rules and administration proposals.

Wyoming additionally surveys hunters after the season and folds that information into its Job Completion Studies that supply an in depth have a look at big-game harvests, administration objectives, and hunter satisfaction. By participating with the searching public in such a method, Wyoming mitigates among the misunderstandings (and conspiracy-oriented misinformation) that may take root in any other case.

“There isn’t a silver bullet,” says Tator of WGFD. “But it surely goes again to staying related with the constituents and understanding what they need by speaking with them and conducting surveys. We’re all the time attempting to reply the query: What would you want from us?”

As well as, it appears there are extra individuals throughout the West who’re fascinated with mule deer and mule deer searching than ever. Whereas this could result in extra engagement with (and funding for) conserving mule deer habitat, it’s an added pressure on the useful resource.

Resolution: Coping with Non-Consumptive Out of doors Recreationalists

One enormous situation for mule deer conservation efforts is attempting to persuade non-hunters that their hobbies—whether or not mountain biking, mountain climbing, backcountry tenting, off-roading, or birding—have detrimental impacts on deer and different wildlife.

“Loads of these customers anticipate entry three hundred and sixty five days a yr and don’t perceive disturbance ecology,” says Steve Belinda, MDF’s conservation chief.

As a first-rate instance, Belinda factors to the need amongst mountain bikers to ascertain and experience loop trials within the wilderness.

“Bikers don’t prefer to comply with a path again, they a lot want entering into a big loop,” Belinda says. “Animals don’t prefer to be contained in [such] a loop and can transfer off, which burns fats or prevents them from placing on fats. That impacts start charges and start weights, that are important for fawn survival.”

Some state companies are trying to restrict path use and shut them down for parts of the yr however face stiff resistance from these recreationalists.

“These of us wish to be on the market on a regular basis and don’t care about deer and elk or pronghorn or sage grouse,” Belinda says.

Mule deer navigate the snow in Colorado.
Leisure actions throughout winter can have an outsized influence on wintering mule deer. Utah, as an example, not too long ago closed shed searching till Could to minimize the disruptive influence on mule deer throughout a harsh winter. Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Publish, by way of Getty Photographs

One other purpose to minimize these impacts is by having recreationalists pay for entry or in any other case contribute cash for conservation. However simply as everybody needs to be a gangster till it’s time to do gangster stuff, the vast majority of these individuals—who would most likely describe themselves as conservationists—have balked when any sort of person charges or different prices have been proposed.

Utah, as an example, not too long ago closed all shed and horn searching till Could to minimize the disruptive influence these actions can have on mule deer and elk in mild of this yr’s harsh winter.  

These points will solely develop into extra acute as locations like Colorado, Montana, and Idaho proceed to expertise important influxes of latest residents, a lot of whom will add strain to an already pressured useful resource.

Local weather Change

The earth is getting hotter, droughts—that we used to think about as momentary phenomena—have develop into extra frequent and intense, and we appear to be topic to an elevated tempo of utmost climate.

Naturally, this has made life more durable on mule deer and different wildlife. (Although mule deer in Canada are on the rise partly due to these shifts.) These modifications within the local weather don’t have remoted impacts. They have an effect on lots of the elements we’ve already touched on, reminiscent of wildfires, conifer encroachment, habitat loss, and the motion of individuals from drier areas—reminiscent of Texas and California—to the Rocky Mountain West.

Resolution: Dealing with Relentless Drought

Of all the issues brought on by local weather change with respect to mule deer (and there are too many to totally articulate right here) the one which’s most easy to handle is water.

We’ve been within the midst of an historic drought for many years now and that’s spurred efforts to maintain sufficient moisture within the panorama. Curiously, the difficulty isn’t only a lack of precipitation but in addition inconsistent rainfall the place some storms do extra hurt than good.

“It seems the timing of after we obtain moisture has develop into extremely variable,” says Tator. “So even when we’re nonetheless getting 16 inches yearly, say, it issues when it comes. We would like early season moisture as a result of we wish it within the floor throughout rising season. And we wish some quantity of moisture to proceed all through the summer season. However we’re seeing large breaks in time with no moisture and then you definitely get a dump of 4 inches–that doesn’t translate to mule deer meals.”

Greater than that, a harsh rain can wash away vegetation that was already struggling from lack of moisture and erode the bottom in such a method that water is extra vulnerable to flowing shortly off the panorama.

4 of the best strategies to maintain water round—to “rewet the sponge,” within the phrases of 1 biologist—are beaver dam analogs, Zeedyk buildings, spring restoration, and cisterns that seize water and redistribute it over time.

Beaver dam analogs are pretty self-explanatory. They’re artifical obstacles that decelerate and maintain again water to create swimming pools and different pockets of moisture. Zeedyk buildings are related. Typically referred to as one-rock dams, they’re comparatively cheap and straightforward to put in and are used to sluggish the circulation of water in streams and creeks and mitigate erosion.

Even retaining a modest quantity of water can have an outsized optimistic influence. An additional little bit of moisture could make browse extra nutritious, caloric, and digestible, giving mule deer higher prospects and assist does with their fawn survival charges.

“Zeedyk buildings are supposed to maintain these areas from unraveling throughout large rain occasions,” Tator stated. “They assist cease deep cuts from occurring and make the areas extra resilient.”

Within the drier areas of the Southwest a precedence has been to improve cisterns to extend their capability. “We’re changing 2,500-gallon tanks with 20,000-gallon tanks,” says Bob Jacobs. The tanks catch water after which pump it again into the setting, not just for the advantage of mule deer however to assist the rising variety of elk in some components of the Southwest.

A big mule deer buck on the prairie.
Mature mule deer bucks are disproportionately affected by CWD. natureguy / Adobe Inventory

Power Losing Illness

Of all the issues enumerated on this story, CWD is likely to be probably the most intractable and dispiriting. Listed below are the information as they stand at present. CWD is spreading throughout the mule deer panorama. It’s 100% deadly amongst contaminated elk, mule deer, and whitetails. Probably the most weak people are mature bucks. These mature bucks are probably the most important spreaders of the illness. And CWD has no remedy.

The Drawback with CWD Is There’s No Resolution

This leaves biologists and recreation officers with no palatable, not to mention “good,” choices to take care of the illness. On the one hand they’ll let the illness unfold unchecked. This can hasten the introduction of CWD to as-yet uninfected populations and speed up the share of deer contaminated in at present troubled herds.

The long-term penalties of this method are probably catastrophic. Barring the emergence of some sort of pure immunity—which we’ve but to see happen within the a long time of monitoring the illness—it may imply the digital disappearance of older age-class mule deer bucks. On this future, a 3 ½-year-old 140-point muley is likely to be nearly as good because it will get, as a result of they gained’t survive past that time to develop greater.

Learn Subsequent: Within the Struggle In opposition to CWD, Deer Breeders in Texas Are Being Solid as Each the Enemy and the Reply

Excessive charges of an infection also can trigger herd numbers to say no, each from the deadly nature of the illness, but in addition from the elevated problem for mule deer does to have sufficient fawns to interchange grownup deer succumbing to CWD. 

Whitetails within the Midwest, which have a lot greater reproductive success, aren’t as weak on this regard, however for Western mule deer, which have already got a tough time of it, this might push them previous a tipping level.

Some mule deer herds in Wyoming and Saskatchewan have already got CWD infections charges of 60 to 70 p.c in bucks. How these herds fare may give us a glimpse of the longer term prospects for the specie. 

However, the opposite approach to deal with the issue isn’t fairly both. It includes taking pictures most, if not all, deer in notably sizzling CWD areas. This method is favored by many biologists because it appears to be one of the simplest ways to sluggish the unfold of the illness to uninfected herds.

Possibly it’s the least dangerous choice, however the rationale smacks of the Vietnam Struggle technique of burning a village down with a purpose to reserve it. Even amongst wildlife professionals, this “answer” leaves a nasty style of their mouths, whereas most hunters viscerally recoil in opposition to the concept.

The idea is a tough one to swallow. Principally, it says that the realm you prefer to hunt now, which has good (or affordable) trophy high quality needs to be sacrificed as a result of at some unknown level down the street—15 years? Longer?—there gained’t be any trophy bucks, or the potential for trophy bucks, in any respect. It’s a tricky promote.


CWD won’t have an answer, however in most hunters’ eyes, there’s an easy repair to coping with predators that key on mule deer: take away extra of them from the panorama by searching and trapping. Relying on geography and time of yr, black bears, coyotes, wolves, and mountain lions all prey on mule deer—however the precise influence of their predation is commonly poorly understood and, in lots of circumstances, overstated by the overall searching public.

“Typically, predators are a part of the system and when they’re managed and balanced with prey species, the animals they take don’t have a big effect on mule deer numbers,” Tator says. “However when populations are already suppressed by habitat points, dangerous winters and different elements—including predation on prime of that creates the potential for predators to have a detrimental impact.”

Resolution: Predator Searching

If you wish to do one thing to guard mule deer from predators, go hunt black bear this spring. When you’re at it, kill some coyotes in April round mule deer fawning grounds. These two actions may truly avoid wasting mule deer.

Two NPS officials kneel by the skeleton of a mule deer killed by a mountain lion.
NPS workers in California study the stays of a deer doubtless killed by a mountain lion. Al Seib / Los Angeles Instances, by way of Getty Photographs

A standard chorus amongst hunters is that grownup mountain lions eat a deer every week, in order that by killing one mountain lion you’re saving 52 deer a yr. The reality is extra complicated, and troublesome to quantify than that.

“Lions by their nature are secretive. They’re onerous to depend. And there’s a small, specialised group who’re good at killing them,” Tator says.

In mild of the strict quotas positioned on mountain lion hunts, the concentrate on simply taking massive males (which some research point out merely encourages extra lions to maneuver into the panorama), the complicated interaction between mountain lions and different predators, and the absence of dependable numbers, it’s a stretch to attract conclusions about the advantages of mountain lion searching on mule deer populations.

That stated, in sure circumstances, rising mountain lion searching alternatives has been proven to assist mule deer.

Bob Jacobs pointed to an instance of a searching unit in Utah the place mule deer had excessive fats content material—that means they had been consuming properly and comparatively unstressed. When mountain lion searching quotas had been elevated in that space, mule deer numbers improved. In distinction, he stated there was a case the place rising the lion quota on extra pressured deer with decrease physique fats didn’t yield the identical profit. That appears counterintuitive, but it surely illustrates the complexity of managing predators for mule deer.

Resolution: Trigger-of-Loss of life Research

Utah has led the way in which in inserting collars on mule deer to collect every kind of knowledge, together with monitoring causes of deer mortality. Over the past eight years, the state has captured and collared some 5,000 deer. Throughout this time, Utah has been in a position to collect about 1,500 collars from deer which have died to research the information.

The Biggest Threats to Mule Deer
A number of states are utilizing GPS collars to review the causes of loss of life amongst mule deer. Tony Campbell / Adobe Inventory

Wyoming is following go well with and not too long ago collared 1,000 mule deer. These 1,000 deer are unfold throughout 5 main inhabitants teams of greater than 200 people every, and two of these teams, or 400 deer whole, are being particularly investigated to review reason behind loss of life, Tator says.

That five-year Wyoming research, together with the continuing efforts in Utah, will assist unravel among the mysteries concerning mule deer mortality. Each time a collared deer dies, wildlife officers will gather the carcass to find out the trigger, whether or not from predators, pick-up truck bumpers, illness, or marginal habitat.

Ultimate Ideas on Mule Deer in 2023

There’s no scarcity of effort to assist mule deer. However as a result of the threats dealing with them are multifaceted, interrelated, and regionally particular there are not any one-size-fits-all solutions. If all politics are native, the solutions to the woes besetting mule deer are much more so.

When Lewis and Clark wrote about “deer of the Mule type” throughout their voyage of discovery—giving mule deer their identify—that they had no inkling what that “curious sort of deer” would come to imply to generations of conservationists and hunters.

So although the challenges dealing with mule deer are steep—some seemingly insurmountable—it’s onerous to not be hopeful when you think about the hundreds of thousands of {dollars}, hundreds of volunteers, and a whole lot of skilled biologists and wildlife professionals who’re within the mule deer’s nook, preventing on their behalf.

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