Upper Powder River Mule Deer Initiative


Mule deer are one of the most iconic species in Wyoming. Their unique ability to survive in a variety of different habitats has allowed them to exist in every corner of the state. Mule deer are found in the high plains of the east, the great basin desert of the southwest, the alpine mountains in the northwest, and everywhere in between. Mule deer are one the most popular game species in Wyoming, with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department selling (WGFD) over 75,000 deer licenses in 2014.

Although mule deer are highly adaptable to a variety of habitats in Wyoming and are extremely popular with sportsmen in Wyoming and throughout the west, population numbers have been declining. There are many different factors that have contributed to mule deer population decline in Wyoming and throughout the west. Some of the issues include decline in quality and quantity of habitat, predation, weather, and disease.

As mule deer populations continue to decline in Wyoming, the WGFD, concerned sportsmen and wildlife enthusiasts have come together to put forth a large effort to address some of the issues. This effort has evolved into the Mule Deer Initiative (MDI). The purpose of the MDI is to outline the issues affecting deer management now and in the future, identify appropriate goals and objectives to address mule deer management issues, and recommend strategies to improve mule deer management in Wyoming. The recommended strategies include a broad range of program-level actions with statewide applicability. The intent ultimately is to develop individual management plans or strategies for key herd units based on the overarching goals and objectives in this document. These herd unit plans will identify specific issues, opportunities, and management actions on a localized level. Success and implementation of these plans will depend on our ability to identify limiting factors to mule deer populations and their habitats, available funding, cooperation of Federal land management agencies and private landowners, and public support (WGFD 2009).

The first two places in Wyoming where the MDI was initiated were in the Wyoming Range and the Platte Valley. In these MDI focal areas, the public was engaged by the WGFD to help the Department identify local issues affecting mule deer and participate in developing recommendations to the Department for implementing management changes and habitat improvement projects.  Both of these efforts in the Wyoming Range and the Platte Valley have to date proved to be very successful, and as a result, the WGFD decided to implement the MDI statewide. Each WGFD management region was tasked with implementing a MDI in a mule deer herd that appeared to be declining in population.

Upper Powder River Mule Deer Initiative

Mule Deer Initiative Plan

Fall 2019 Upper Powder River Mule Deer Study Update

Upper Powder River Mule Deer Harvest Age and Antler Spread

Upper Powder River Mule Deer Rapid Habitat Assessments

Preliminary Data on Wildlife Use of Existing Structures along I-25, Kaycee, WY


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