Mule deer study shows the critters move long distances over a year

Print Article

A collared mule deer in the Whitefish Range, part of a study looking at the animals’ movements and habitat choices.

Preliminary data from a 2-1/2-year long mule deer study is showing some interesting facets in the animals’ behavior and movement across the landscape in Northwest Montana.

Researchers from the University of Montana in cooperation with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, radio collared 44 mule deer on the Rocky Mountain Front near Augusta, 26 in the Fisher River drainage and 31 in the Whitefish range.

Currently, of those deer, 26 are still “on air” along the front, 21 near the Fisher and 19 in the Whitefish Range.

The GPS radio collars let off a signal when they stop moving for long periods of time, an indication of a mortality. So far, researchers have found that 12 muleys were killed by mountain lions, three by wolves and five due to other health reasons.

Muleys will also travel considerable distances. Some collared near Trego, for example, go to summer range along the Continental Divide in the Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, some 60 miles by air away.

On the Front, some deer traverse a big chunk of the Bob Marshall Wilderness to get to the South Fork of the Flathead.

The study is also looking at the type of habitat the deer frequent. It was initially thought they might like previously harvested stands of timber.

But what they’re really keying in on is older forest fire burns, ranging in age from 6 to 30 years old, the preliminary data has shown.

Some deer after last winter were in very poor shape, FWP Region 1 Wildlife Manager Neil Anderson noted. The bone marrow from dead deer was a dull pink, whereas in a healthy animal it should be solid, white and waxy. A pink marrow is a sign of malnutrition.

Mule deer in Northwest Montana have been in decline since the mid 1990s, FWP harvest data shows. Whitetail deer may also be playing a role. When they occupy the same habitat, whitetails can outcompete the mule deer, Anderson noted.

Print Article

Read More Outdoors

Montana Wilderness Association holding annual photo contest

December 04, 2019 at 8:47 am | Hungry Horse News Montana Wilderness Association is holding its annual Picture Wild Montana photo contest, with prizes offered for the best photos taken on public lands across the state. The theme of this year’s cont...

Comments

Read More

Hunting season better than last year, hearings on biennial season changes coming up

December 04, 2019 at 7:55 am | Hungry Horse News The general big game hunting season concluded last weekend across Montana, and hunters took more deer than they did last year. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks tallied more than 14,000 hunters at its...

Comments

Read More

Be careful when ice fishing this season

December 04, 2019 at 7:47 am | Lake County Leader Every year, at least one story in this space is devoted to staying safe on the ice. Small area ponds, potholes and backwaters are finally forming a thin layer of ice, which can be deceiving to uninf...

Comments

Read More

Lake whitefish harder to find without boat

November 27, 2019 at 7:55 am | Hungry Horse News Lake whitefish have been making annual spawning runs up the Flathead River system for over 30 years. In this space on Nov. 21, 1990, Tom Weaver, FWP fisheries biologist, reported, “A river run of la...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 892-2151
PO BOX 189, 926 Nucleus Avenue
Columbia Falls, MT 59912

©2019 Hungry Horse News Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X