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Mule Deer Plan Population Objective Strategies h & k Implement a method to collect annual adult doe and fawn mortality estimates on representative units.

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Presentation on theme: "Mule Deer Plan Population Objective Strategies h & k Implement a method to collect annual adult doe and fawn mortality estimates on representative units."— Presentation transcript:

1 Mule Deer Plan Population Objective Strategies h & k Implement a method to collect annual adult doe and fawn mortality estimates on representative units statewide Implement research studies on specific herd units that are chronically below population objective to identify problems and recommend solutions

2 Knowledge gaps Birth rates Cause specific mortality Effect of coyote control on fawn survival rates Habitat limitations Competition with elk Fawn and adult survival rates Highway mortality estimates

3 We are currently working with BYU and USU to design a study investigate fawn survival from birth to 6 months. This study will also look at cause specific mortality for fawns We also want to estimate coyote density and study the effect that coyote control has on fawn survival rates

4 Once we know what is killing fawns, we can take measures to minimize that mortality If coyote control is not currently effective, we can improve our methods to make it more effective

5 Utah Range Trend Studies have documented a steady decline in the quality of mule deer habitat We currently have no research looking at how habitat quality and quantity limits population growth Recent studies in Colorado and Idaho have shown that habitat quality and quantity is the main factor limiting population growth

6 Few studies looking specifically at deer elk competition Although there is certainly some dietary overlap, none have irrefutable evidence that elk and deer directly compete for resources There may be some indirect effects that are extremely difficult to tease out Even if research showed a negative impact of elk on mule deer, is it realistic to decrease elk populations ?

7 Ballard et al units were chosen statewide to represent surrounding units Adult does and doe fawns were captured on each unit and fitted with radio collars to estimate annual survival Initial project cost was $381,000 and will cost $224,000 annually We hope to continue this study as long as we can because it provides us the best possible survival data

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9 Statewide adult survival rate was 88% Higher than expected (85%) Statewide fawn survival rates were 55% Lower than expected (60%)

10 Once we know survival rates in a specific area, we can more accurately determine if populations are increasing or decreasing If certain units have higher than expected mortality, we can investigate and try to minimize the cause of that mortality Over winter mortality can be estimated more accurately, this lets us know when winters are severe enough to require supplemental feeding

11 We currently have a rough estimate of road killed deer from road kill pick up Picked-up 4,209 carcasses in 2008 Drastically underestimating the true value We do not know the number of deer that are hit and killed by vehicles but are not recovered We initiated a study through USU to estimate highway mortality using road kill collection This will be a 3 year study with a cost of $364,000

12 51 sampling location 3 mile segments 153 miles highway 9% of contractor miles Sites are selected seasonally

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14 Preliminary data from July 1st to September 30th Contractors have recovered 12.5% of tagged carcasses For every deer collected by contractors, 7 more are being killed

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17 In December 2010, we will GPS collar 31 adult female deer ( >2 years)

18 GPS collars will last 1.5 years (Dec 2010 to May 2012) Survival and movements Frequency of road crossings Proximity to roads Home range positioning Use of wildlife crossings Movement near wildlife fencing

19 Knowing the number of deer killed on the highways will help us convince UDOT that crossing structures are needed The GPS data will help us determine how deer interact with the fences and crossings This information will help us improve crossing design and location

20 The DWR is proactively conducting research needed to find out what is limiting mule deer populations The DWR will spend $1.4 million in the next 4 years on mule deer research The DWR is looking at spending an additional $500,000 to fund the fawn cause specific mortality and coyote control effect study This research will help focus our efforts in the areas where they are needed most

21 Thank you


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