Wyoming Deer:  An estimated deer population of 416,200 in 2019, 469,700 in 2018, 438,100 in 2017, 435,000 in 2016, and 423,000 deer in 2015, up from 400,000 in 2014.  A harsh 2018-19 winter reduced populations.  The deer population was trending higher after three mild winters into 2016, but a very harsh winter for 2016-17 west of the continental divide resulted in very low fawn survival.  Also an EHD die-off.  The mild winter of 2018 allowed populations to recover.  A total population of about 578,000 in 1991.  Wyoming Game and Fish draft CWD Management Plan 2019.  Herd analysis at right.  Historical Wyoming deer hunting data and news archive..
Wyoming Deer News

Super Tag raises $1.4 million for wildlife conservation in 2021 July 23, 2021 Wyoming, Sheridan Media
... another record-breaking year of ticket sales, bolstered by hunters vying for 11 chances to get a license for the state’s premier big and trophy game... the Super Tag raffle ...

WY Game and Fish Moving Ahead on Elk Feedground Planning July 19, 2021 Wyoming, Public News Service
...  "We detected our first case [of chronic wasting disease] this winter. It was the first case of an elk that is in proximity to elk feedgrounds. And so it is concerning."  Livestock producers want feedgrounds, which remove competition for their cattle grazing on public lands...

... an 18-mile stretch of Interstate 25 between Kaycee and Buffalo has the second highest rate of vehicle-deer collisions in Wyoming... a $100,000 donation from the Knobloch Family Foundation ...

... Mule deer rely on sagebrush as a food source, and it can make up a considerable amount of their diet, especially during the winter. Deer primarily eat the annual leaders of sagebrush plants —  that's the new part that grows each year. By mowing, we encourage sagebrush leader growth. It means plants grow back stronger and new sagebrush plants have a chance to emerge...

Mule deer study raises red flags July 1, 2021 Wyoming News
...   Statewide, mule deer populations have been on the decline ... the Upper Powder River mule deer herd is in decline ... Overall poor body condition... primary causes of deaths including chronic wasting disease and mountain lion mortality ...

Hunts proposed in National Elk Refuge June 15, 2021 Wyoming Tribune
... its first-ever white-tailed deer and pronghorn antelope hunts.  For much of its 109-year history, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-run refuge has authorized hunting of its namesake species, elk...

... “The Baggs Working Group includes a wide range of perspectives from Wyomingites with a deep connection to the Baggs Mule Deer Migration Corridor area,” ...

...This herd unit has one of the highest prevalence rates of CWD in the state and any management actions taken will be done with public buy-in and participation ...

Wyoming Mule Deer Stick Together-- In Three Distinct Genetic Groups May 22, 2021 Wyoming Public Media
...Scientists at the University of Wyoming have discovered that there are three distinct genetic groups of mule deer ... in the western, northern, and southern parts of the state ...

...  mule deer in Wyoming represent three different genetic groups  ... Mule deer populations have declined or fluctuated considerably over the past several decades because of a multitude of factors, including extreme weather, habitat loss and degradation, and predation...

... Phase II involves additional opportunity for the public to share their thoughts on feedgrounds and contribute to shaping the elk feedgrounds management plan...  A summary report of Phase I is also available online... Elk have utilized feedgrounds in northwest Wyoming since the early 1900s. Approximately 12,000 elk are supplementally-fed during the winter months ...

... Also affected by the adverse environmental conditions is Wyoming’s mule deer population, although not as severely as the antelope. Brimeyer said to expect a reduction in mule deer licenses as well..,

...deer in the Wyoming Range time when they mate according to the length of their migration route to take advantage of the best food... If we can generate a discussion now with land owners and federal land management agencies on what we can do to not only facilitate these conditions but promote them as well ...

... The law review article provides detailed information about migration ecology and economic principles relevant to conserving migrations, before examining the successes and shortcomings of existing legal and policy efforts...

... The lawsuit filed by Mountain Pursuit argues the association was improperly given those licenses, stating it fails to meet the definition of a “nonprofit charitable organization” allowed to receive the licenses...

UW Study Looks At What Affects Mule Deer Births April 9, 2021 Wyoming, laramielive.com
... Among the study’s findings:  Most deer completed migration well before giving birth: Across the five-year period of the study, animals completed migration, on average, 23 days before giving birth.  Does that ended migration earlier gave birth earlier... [Read the article in Ecology] ...

Elk feedground bill won’t hamper Game and Fish power April 9, 2021 Wyoming, WyoFile
... I do not believe that the department or the commission will close a feedground in my lifetime. Feedgrounds are important to Wyoming. Without them, we would have far fewer elk. Elk’s ability to travel hundreds of miles for winter sustenance has been lost. There is really no choice but to provide supplemental feeding...

Wildlife officials say to not harass animals while shed hunting March 31, 2021 Wyoming, Clark Fork Valley Press
... Late winter and early spring are the hardest times for deer, elk, and moose because food is limited and disturbance by recreationists can stress and cause them to burn off their winter reserves even faster. During especially hard winters FWP often puts out reminders to shed hunters to try to avoid disturbing wintering big game..,

Legislature strips Game and Fish of elk feed ground closure power March 30, 2021 Wyoming, WyoFile
... the bill comes amid elevated worries about fatal incurable Chronic Wasting Disease infecting feedground elk and spreading more rapidly because of the artificial crowding on feedgrounds... But closing a feedground could also have negative effects, sending elk onto private lands ...

... generated through the sale of the Wyoming Governor’s complimentary big game licenses  ... five bighorn sheep, five moose, ten deer/elk/antelope and five wild bison  licenses... revenue is solely dedicated to wildlife conservation ...

... The Muley Fanatic Foundation (MFF) was established in 2012 by Wyoming natives ... nearly 4 million dollars allocated to date through various on-the-ground projects and research initiatives ...

Upper Powder River Mule Deer Study - March 11, 2021, Wyoming


Mule deer study offers new data for planning March 9, 2021 Wyoming, The Sheridan Press
... a number of agencies have partnered on the Northern Bighorns Mule Deer Movement Study, which will track the seasonal movements of mule deer in the northern Bighorn Mountains.   The study is led by Sheridan Wyoming Game and Fish Department wildlife biologist Tim Thomas and Carrie Kyle, a graduate student at the University of Wyoming’s Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit...

Wildlife Conservation license plate is one way to give to Wyoming March 6, 2021
Wyoming Tribune
... Wyoming came out with a special plate that supports wildlife conservation. It features a mule deer buck on the far left ...  it costs $180, with $150 going to state wildlife conservation ...

Muley Fanatics donates deer crossing signs to Green River February 24, 2021 Wyoming, Wyoming Tribune
... These 30”x30” signs are solar powered with LED lighting around the perimeter of the sign, with the lights continually flashing and providing for a highly visible reminder of possible deer crossing ...

Game managers eye testing soil, water for chronic wasting disease February 17, 2021 Wyoming, Casper Star-Tribune Online
... he’s banking soil from different parts of the refuge so that there’s the option of determining CWD’s spatial extent in the present and, as the years tick by, sometime down the road...“The big question is, ‘How likely are prions to enter groundwater?’” ...

Group formed to make fences more wildlife friendly in Cody area February 7, 2021 Wyoming, Billings Gazette
...  the Absaroka Fence Initiative. The AFI is a combination of local, state and federal groups, as well as ranchers and landowners. The group’s goal is to remove fence obstructions along migration routes that WGFD, the Wyoming Migration Initiative and Montana State University have identified...

... one of the big problems we have is we never get any public input,” Schmid said. His concern was echoed at the meeting in July by Zachary Keen, who also opposed the plan overall and said he was usually the only member of the public attending Game and Fish meetings...

... The Commission approved $500,000 for fourteen Mule Deer Initiative projects to enhance habitat for mule deer and support the ugulate’s migrations. Commission dollars will be matched $6 to every one by other sources amounting to a total of $3.56 million on the ground...

... The research began because the area has experienced “poor fawn production and overall depressed deer numbers.”... Eight mortalities of collared deer have occurred with causes identified as predation, vehicle collisions and several unknown ...

CWD confirmed in hunting area near Cody February 3, 2021 Wyoming, Local News 8
... The deer was found dead and in poor condition... northwest of Cody ...

... the state averages about 6,000 collisions between vehicles and big game each year... 85% of those collisions are with mule deer and Game and Fish says that this can result in the death of up to 4% of Wyoming’s entire mule deer population in a year...

Game and Fish Commission meeting highlights January 31, 2021 Wyoming, County 10
... The Commission approved $500,000 for fourteen Mule Deer Initiative projects to enhance habitat for mule deer and support the ungulate’s migrations. Commission dollars will be matched $6 to everyone by other sources amounting to a total of $3.56 million on the ground...

... The Platte Valley is home to 12,000 mule deer that winter in the valley and move to summer ranges ... The region was designated an official migration corridor in 2018 by Gov. Mark Gordon, and a group of Wyoming residents are currently considering how best to balance ecological needs and development opportunities in the area...

162 acres conserved in Sublette County, Wyoming January 29, 2021 High Plains Journal
... directly adjacent to other WSGLT conserved properties and will bring the total acres ... to over 18,000... Most of the property is within a stopover area within the Sublette Mule Deer Migration Corridor, the longest known mule deer migration corridor in the world...

How Wolves Are Driving Down Mountain Lion Populations January 21, 2021 Wyoming, Smithsonian Magazine
... study published in November in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B provided the first evidence that when the two species overlap, wolves have a greater effect on mountain lion populations than hunting by humans and the availability of prey. And the ways scientists say that wolves impact populations? By starving out adults and killing kittens...

CWD found in new Wyoming deer hunt area January 20, 2021 Wyoming, County 10
... a positive test from a mule deer buck that was found dead. Deer Hunt Area 138 southeast of Pinedale ...

Wildlife advocates discuss top Wyoming issues in 2021 January 17, 2021 Wyoming, KPVI News 6
... Chronic wasting disease ...  has been slowly marching its way west toward the 22 feedgrounds run by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department ... Feedgrounds are controversial on their own — even the state of Montana once wrote Wyoming a letter asking the state to stop artificially feeding elk. Feedgrounds congregate elk, encouraging the spread of disease ...

State group offers guidance to Mule Deer working group January 16, 2021 Wyoming News
...  the Platte Valley is home to 12,000 mule deer that winter in the valley and move to summer ranges in the Snowy Range, Sierra Madres and foothills of North Park, Colo. The corridor includes public and private lands. The top concern for the corridor is maintaining connectivity between seasonal ranges...

...  a wildlife friendly option...  the bottom strand was raised to 18 inches and barbless. It allows pronghorn and young deer and elk to crawl under the fence without injury. They also lowered the top strand to 42-inches and enlarged the distance between it and the second strand to help ensure animals jumping over didn’t get entangled in the strands...

BLM to conduct prescribed fire in Sweetwater County January 8, 2021 Wyoming, Bureau of Land Management
...  The project consists of approximately 200 acres of slash piles that are targeted to be burned to reduce juniper where it is encroaching on sage grouse, mule deer, and elk habitat..,

Data shows how bunched up elk are in Northwest Wyoming’s feedgrounds; a worry for chronic wasting disease spread December 27, 2020 Wyoming, Cheyenne-Scottsbluff KGWN-TV
... elk contact rates were 2.6 times higher during the feed season ... feeding concentrates animals, creating a conduit for the transmission of diseases ... About 20,000 elk are fed on the federally-managed refuge and on 22 state-run feedgrounds in Teton, Sublette and Lincoln counties...

... This is the first elk to test positive for CWD in northwest Wyoming that lives in close proximity to winter feedgrounds... Intensive CWD surveillance of the Jackson elk herd has been ongoing since 2009...

Game and Fish seeking comment on migration assessment December 12, 2020 Wyoming, Wyoming News
... an 80-mile stretch of mule deer migration routes in the Platte Valley, stretching from south of the Colorado border to north of Interstate 80... The Platte Valley is home to 12,000 mule deer ... The draft assessment is available here ... comment by December 15 ...

Sublette County, Wyoming, acres conserved December 10, 2020 Wyoming, High Plains Journal
... 1,295 acres in the Upper Green River Valley...  the ranch provides majestic views and critical wildlife habitat for deer, moose, and pronghorn...  funded in part by the Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Wyoming Wildlife Natural Resource Trust...

Game & Fish Seeks Public Input in Elk Feedlot Revisions December 10, 2020 Wyoming, Public News Service
... Feedlots were first introduced in 1929 to keep elk away from food intended for livestock ... there are currently no cases of chronic wasting disease on the state's 22 winter feeding grounds, but mule deer and whitetail deer populations have seen major outbreaks in southeastern Wyoming and the disease is spreading westward...

... The group will work to “to review the existing designation of the Platte Valley Mule Deer Corridor and develop recommendations for the governor.” ...

Wyoming initiates elk winter feedground planning process December 6, 2020 Billings Gazette
... “We’ve elevated elk populations by supplemental feeding for over 100 years,”  ... If the feedgrounds were shut down, about 15,000 elk would crowd onto existing winter ranges where pronghorn and mule deer herds congregate. The existing native winter range could not support the additional wildlife...

Winter Season closure for Wyoming Game and Fish habitat management areas December 5, 2020 Wyoming, Cheyenne-Scottsbluff KGWN-TV
... “Seasonal closures are essential for minimizing stress-causing disturbances to wintering deer, elk, bighorn sheep and other wildlife,” ...

...  “When people or their animals enter closed winter range, wildlife is forced to move to new locations. This retreat requires animals, such as deer, elk and moose, to use energy they cannot spare.” ...

... “The more we learn about big game migration corridors, the more clear it becomes that these migration routes are essential to maintaining healthy and thriving populations of deer, pronghorn, moose, and bighorn sheep,” Connie Wilbert, director of Sierra Club Wyoming...

... “[We will] really try and lay out for people as best we can, why we're doing what we're doing, how we got here, and why we continue to use supplemental feeding of elk in the wintertime as a management practice,” said Goeck...

Chronic wasting disease detected at Flathead game farm November 23, 2020 Wyoming, Polson Lake County Leader
... a single game farm animal in Flathead County was confirmed positive for chronic wasting disease.  This is the second detection of CWD in domestic cervids in Montana this year ... Montana law requires CWD positive game farm herds to undergo complete depopulation ...

... The document provides an overview of the conservation challenges and opportunities along the 80 miles in south-central Wyoming that make up one of the most crucial pathways in the state for spring and fall mule deer movements. The public is invited to review the draft and submit comments...

... vehicles collide with an average of 136 mule deer each year on a 26-mile stretch of US 26/287 near Dubois.  Those collisions cost the state an estimated $746,000 per year...

Game and Fish offers informational sessions about elk feedgrounds, an issue that's divided Western Wyoming for Decades November 15, 2020 Wyoming, Casper Star-Tribune Online
... The first elk offered food paid for by the Wyoming Legislature was in 1910 after Jackson resident Stephen Leek began speaking and writing about starving elk... worries that elk would contract CWD on the feedgrounds then spread it north..,

Burned, beetle-ravaged Wyoming forest expected to flourish November 2, 2020 Colorado, OutThere Colorado
... For elk and mule deer, the benefit will be less about tree cover and more about a sudden abundance of food.  When a fire burns, it clears out conifers like lodgepole pines... more water on the ground for grasses, wildflowers and wildlife ...

See the video highlights from trail cameras placed along high-use portion of the Baggs Mule Deer Migration Corriodor for a couple weeks this fall. - November 4, 2020 Wyoming


Trump signs off on conservation bill November 2, 2020 Wyoming, Cody Enterprise
... The ACE Act will help protect elk, mule deer ... establishes a task force to address the growing problem of chronic wasting disease...

Mixed bag expected for local hunting seasons October 29, 2020 Wyoming, Sundancetimes
... Mule deer numbers are good in most of the county ... The white-tailed deer population has also been productive and remains high...

...  most of the deer who were attacked “died of their injuries or had to be euthanized because of them.”   “The reports given indicated different dogs attacking deer on different days with all dogs appearing to have homes as they were wearing collars,” ...

3 new CWD-positive deer hunt areas identified October 26, 2020 Wyoming, County 10
... Deer Hunt Area 142, just north of Big Piney, is the sixth positive area West of the Continental Divide. Deer Hunt Area 117 is southwest of Cody, and Deer Hunt area 96 is northwest of Bairoil. All three hunt areas are adjacent to existing CWD positive areas...

... The resolution cites the economic impact of the proposal and requests that the DEC delay the the proposal to allow for alternative proposals that would result in “minimal disruption to businesses, landowners, hunters and the snowmobile community.” ...

Which habitat treatments help mule deer on the Wyoming Range? October 9, 2020 Daily Rocket Miner
...Along with sagebrush, aspen trees are particularly important to mule deer. Prescribed fire, conifer removal and harrowing disturbs old aspen stands and increases the amount of nutritional forage.  Overall, managing plant communities by mimicking natural disturbance Game and Fish is helping habitat for better resources for mule deer and all wildlife...

2 Wyoming cow elk test positive for chronic wasting disease October 6, 2020 Wyoming, Billings Gazette
...   in the Cody and Laramie regions ... CWD was confirmed in Elk Hunt Areas 45 and 114 with positive tests from two hunter-harvested adult cow elk...

... CWD was confirmed in Deer Hunt Area 25 in the Bighorn Mountains with a positive test from an adult doe mule deer that died during a Game and Fish capture operation. Deer Hunt Area 25 is surrounded on three sides by four known CWD positive deer hunt areas...

CWD Samples Focused on Specific Hunt Areas This Year September 8, 2020 Wyoming, laramielive.com
... The Laramie Region’s goal is to collect samples from at least 200 adult mule deer bucks harvested in Hunt Areas 15, 61, and 74-77...

... researchers found that the dynamics of springtime plant growth, specifically whether green-up progresses like a wave or not, explains where migration occurs in many ecosystems ... Migratory behavior emerges as a means for animals to track food in landscapes where pulses of the best forage actually move across the landscape as the spring season unfolds...

Fall Creek Elk Herd a ‘focus’ of CWD surveillance September 6, 2020 Wyoming, Jackson Hole News & Guide
... Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, has been detected in mule deer in the region, but not yet in elk...  just south of Jackson ... approximately 5,000-animal herd ...

... Mule deer populations in the Sheep Mountain, Platte Valley and Shirley Mountain herds are stable or slightly increasing ... Buck ratios remain high across the Platte Valley... Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and poor fawn production have suppressed populations in the Goshen Rim and Laramie Mountains herds ... Elk populations remain above objective ..,

Leasing impacts wildlife migrations August 23, 2020 Wyoming, Casper Star-Tribune Online
... the federal government will offer more than 180,000 acres across the state to the oil and gas industry – and 18,000 of those acres are within an important wildlife migration corridor ... mule deer that migrate from the sage brush steppe of the Red Desert to the mountain meadows of the Hoback Basin undertake the longest land migration in the Lower 48...

Wyoming 2020 Deer Season Forecast August 18, 2020 Game and Fish Department
... Casper Region: ... The outlook for mule deer is mixed, with many areas now supporting more mule deer than in much of the past 10 years. Other areas continue to harbor lower than desired mule deer densities, especially in the Laramie Range (hunt areas 65 and 66). Buck ratios remain high in most mule deer herds, and hunter success should be good for those hunters hunting on private lands and in limited quota areas..., [more at link above]

... the Migration Corridor Executive Order 2020-1... supports conservation of mule deer and pronghorn ... plowed new ground for the nation’s efforts to develop an approach for managing corridors and protecting our economy ...

... The Dry Piney area is ranked third out of 42 hot spots for wildlife crashes identified in the state of Wyoming...

Mule deer being captured in Bighorns August 11, 2020 Wyoming, Powell Tribune
... The goals of the study are to identify mule deer seasonal range and habitat use and document fawn production and three-to-six month fawn survival rates.  On March 5, 25 does were captured ... and fitted with radio collars ...

Report of poached deer leads to surprising suspect August 6, 2020 Wyoming, Powell Tribune
... Lentsch noted bobcat tracks near the partially cached carcass and determined a bobcat was responsible for killing the deer, rather than illegal human activity... he captured video footage of the bobcat coming back to feed on its prize ...

Collaborative effort to reduce costly collisions July 29, 2020 Wyoming, Buffalo Bulletin
... In any given year, vehicle collisions can kill up to 4% of Wyoming’s total mule deer population. Local mulies are already struggling... commissioners expressed support for work on all three of the wildlife crossing projects presented ...

Mule deer captures to begin in northern Bighorns July 29, 2020 Wyoming, WGFD News
... The goals of the study are to identify mule deer seasonal range and habitat use and document fawn production and three-to-six month fawn survival rates.  On March 5, 2020, 25 does were captured on winter range on the eastern and western foothills of the Bighorns and fitted with radio collars by a professional wildlife capture crew..,

... Some areas might see expanded hunting harvests, for example, to cull infected animals... In other areas, controversial winter feed lots, viewed as hot spots for the infectious disease, could be limited...

...The number of licenses available for deer and elk remained steady. Resident applications for buck deer rose by 10.6% and 20.41% for doe/fawn deer. Nonresidents applications only rose by a half of a percent for bucks and 4.6% for doe/fawn.  For elk, residents submitted 8.3% more applications for bull licenses and 10.3% more for cow/calf...
... surface disturbance from energy development can hinder mule deer migrations when it exceeds 3 percent.  Researchers from the University of Wyoming and Western Ecosystems Technology used 15 years of movement data collected from GPS-collared mule deer in western Wyoming ...

... Created by Gov. Matt Mead and the Wyoming Legislature in 2013, the Super Tag raffle provides hunters opportunity and raises money for wildlife management in Wyoming. This year, 102,495 tickets were sold, a 15%  increase from last year...

Wyoming Game and Fish put $500,000 toward protecting wildlife July 18, 2020 Cheyenne-Scottsbluff KGWN-TV
... The Commission voted to put $500,000 on-the-ground to fund the 1-25 Buffalo to Kaycee fence modification project to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions... The Commission challenged community and conservation groups to raise additional dollars ...

Chronic Wasting Disease Management Plan Approved July 17, 2020 Wyoming, KTAK
....  Wyoming Game and Fish Commission approved the Wyoming Chronic Wasting Disease Management Plan ... CWD is widely distributed across the state...

WY Game and Fish Untangles Lassoed Deer July 15, 2020 Wyoming, mybighornbasin
... While deer becoming entangled isn’t too unusual a call for Game and Fish, this incident was no accident. The deer had been deliberately roped ...

... New donation options to help fund overpasses, underpasses, fencing and signage to prevent wildlife-vehicle collisions went into effect July 1... nearly 6,000 big game animals like deer ... die each year from collisions with vehicles ...

Sublette County rejects Bondurant resort proposal July 10, 2020 Wyoming, Gillette News Record
... The proposed resort would have intersected with the state of Wyoming’s first protected migration route, a path used by mule deer that spend winter in the Red Desert but venture north each summer into the Bridger-Teton National Forest...

... Preliminarily, wolf numbers appear to be a major environmental influence that causes the elk herd to abandon the Gros Ventre in favor of the National Elk Refuge... Wyoming Game and Fish officials said it’s undesirable to have wolves push most of the elk out of the Gros Ventre...

... "Climate change is drastically affecting their food supply during migration," said University of Wyoming researcher Ellen Aikens, who analyzed 19 years of drought records going back to 2001 ... "In dry years, they get only 50 percent of the benefit that they get in an average year," ...

... The draft plan is posted online. Scott Edberg, deputy chief of wildlife for Game and Fish said if approved, the plan will be the starting point for Game and Fish to move forward with deer and elk management in the face of CWD...

Project gains new insights into mule deer declines June 14, 2020 Wyoming, Planet Jackson Hole
... to determine why mule deer populations have declined by 40% even in relatively pristine habitats. Researchers have honed in on key contributing factors—including drought, predation, and food competition ...

UW Study Reveals Impacts of Climate Change on Migrating Mule Deer June 11, 2020 Wyoming, University of Wyoming
... the benefits of migration are likely to decrease for mule deer and other migratory herbivores as drought becomes more common due to ongoing climate change ... the best migration routes that produced the most abundant forage and the longest duration of green-up in wet years also were the most severely impacted by drought...

How Does Energy Development Affect Wildlife Migration Patterns? June 8, 2020 Wyoming, The Pew Charitable Trusts 
... in Wyoming, where mule deer populations have been in decline since the 1990s despite significant interventions to stabilize their numbers... Our study showed that migratory use by deer steeply declined when surface disturbance from energy development, such as access roads and well pads, exceeded 3% of the migration route...

BLM to Conduct 2 Prescribed Fires near La Barge June 8, 2020 Wyoming, SweetwaterNOW.com
... prescribed fires are part of the Wyoming Range Mule Deer Habitat Project which was developed as part of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Wyoming Range Mule Deer Initiative that was completed in 2011. The purpose of the project is to improve vegetation conditions in crucial mule deer winter range, transition range, and fawning ranges...

From 1883:  ... ...  the Laramie Boomerang noted three market hunters killed “three ton” of elk in the northern Laramie Range and two others killed an additional “5,000 pounds” in the Medicine Bow Mountain... the Laramie Boomerang issued another call for better game protection laws ...  “It will be but a short time until the bear, the deer and the antelope will disappear ..,

... Pronghorn and mule deer populations have been trending in the wrong direction, plummeting by as much as 40% in certain herds because of habitat loss and fragmentation ... two identified migration corridors—for the Sublette pronghorn and Wyoming Range mule deer herds—are up for potential designation by the state...

Wyoming Acquires Another Large Piece Of Public Land May 4, 2020 Wyoming Public Media
... A 4,350-acre parcel of land on the Wyoming-South Dakota border ... will protect critical winter range for elk, whitetail and mule deer ...

Game and Fish Department adjusts rules on antler hunting April 29, 2020 Wyoming, Gillette News Record
... The updated regulation expands the seasonal closure area to include expanded critical wintering habitat and enact a new opening time of 12 noon on public lands. The annual closure is to protect wintering big game...

Elk feedground litigation rolls on April 28, 2020 Wyoming Gillette News Record
... The complaint, like others recently challenging elk feeding, charges that managers are violating environmental laws by continuing to feed elk while chronic wasting disease spreads throughout western Wyoming and further into the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem...

... Monique was two elk, both of whom were outfitted with satellite collars in early 1970 ... belonged to a migratory herd of 7,000 animals that wintered on the National Elk Refuge just south of Yellowstone ... The collar cost $25,000, weighed 23 pounds ... John and Frank Craighead, twin brothers and legendary wildlife researchers ...

Upper Powder River mule deer herd remains low, survey finds April 10, 2020 Wyoming, Billings Gazette
...  Based on surveys this winter the estimated population of the Upper Powder River mule deer herd is 8,500, significantly lower than the herd objective of 18,000.
“We are working really hard to understand the population dynamics of this herd ...” said Cheyenne Stewart, Buffalo wildlife biologist. “Our buck harvest is not impacting our ability to increase the population...

... The study is designed to identify mule deer movements in the northern Bighorns, evaluate seasonal range and habitat use and document fawn production and three-to-six month fawn survival rates.  Mule deer populations in much of Wyoming and the West have been declining for decades...

... shows that Interstate 80 is an almost impenetrable obstacle to movement of pronghorn, mule deer and elk. The highway has severed or truncated migration corridors originating as much as 150 miles away...

Wyoming has some of the longest-distance big game migration corridors in North America, but many of the herds run up against the barrier of Interstate-80, which bisects a vast winter range in the heart of the Rocky Mountain West. We took a road trip to find out just how big this wildlife issue is, and what wildlife experts and highway engineers are doing to solve it.


... Mule deer have seen a decline in total numbers throughout the West ... A majority of the funding will be used to support habitat improvement efforts around the state, like fighting cheatgrass spread to support native plant productivity and reducing the encroachment of conifers into aspen stands, which provide coverage and forage for mule deer...

Mule Deer Migration: One Woman Follows in Its Footsteps March 26, 2020 Wyoming, GearJunkie
... The film opens with one researcher’s mission to track tagged doe No. 139.  The lead researcher, Sam Dwinnell, decides her team will trace the doe’s 6-week, 85-mile migration in just 9 days... [link to video]


Wyoming data:  A general decline in the mule deer population since 1985.  The estimated population of 416,200 in 2019 and estimates for 2015 through 2018 are based on the two tables below. The estimates for the mule deer are taken from the state of Wyoming's populations estimates to the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. The data source is available for each year in the table. The white-tail deer population estimate is based on harvest data and a base population estimate of 70,000 in 2015. 2020 Forecast. 2019 Forecast.
    Rough winter conditions in 2020-21, expect reduced mule deer licenses for the 2021-22 hunt.  An early onset harsh winter in 2019-20 increased mortality.  Also a hard 2018-19 late winter with three-quarters of the fawns dying from starvation in the southwest.  Reduced mule deer tags for 2019 to support the population.  In 2019 populations hadn't recovered from the 2016-17 winter.  An estimated 353,000 mule deer and about 70,000 white-tails in 2015, total population of 423,000.  A mild winter and wet spring is allowing the deer herd to recover into 2018 after the severe winter of 2016-17 west of the continental divide reduced deer populations, mortality rates close to 25 percent in the Wyoming Range.   Good deer survival in other areas, but an outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease.  Applications for deer hunting far exceeded available licenses in 2018.  From about 1988 to 2019 the mule deer population fell by 31 percent.

Mule Deer Population

Year  Mule Deer
Link to SourceEstimate
2015353,000
2016364,000
2017364,000
2018396,000
2019357,600
2020343,300
      An estimated 353,000 mule deer and about 70,000 white-tails in 2015, total population of 423,000.  About 340,000 mule deer and 60,000 white-tails in 2014, total population of 400,000. The 2016 Hunting Forecast provides details. Deer populations were generally somewhat up in 2015 and 2016 after three mild winters that resulted in good fawn survival.  Good rainfall in 2016.   Low fawn survival going into 2017 from a harsh winter.
      Deer populations are in fair shape in the north. Mule deer populations are up in the central part of the state but down in the west.  White-tails numbers are up in the Black Hills, but still down in some other areas from the 2014 EHD outbreak.  Mule deer antler restrictions were lifted in many regions. Mule deer populations are up in the Green River area and the northern Big Horn. Populations down in the southern Bighorn Basin from habitat decline, weather, and disease.  Follow the Wyoming Migration Study

White-tail Deer Population

YearEstimate
201570,000
201671,000
201774,100
201873,700
201972,900
Estimated from
harvest data.
   In 2013 the state had an estimated 63,000 white-tails and 374,000 mule deer, 369,000 mule deer in 2012.  The harsh winter of 2013-14 reduced the herd.  A total population of about 578,000 in 1991. Mule deer populations in Wyoming have been on the decline since the late 1980s. According to the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies mule deer populations "declined by an estimated 168,000 (31 percent) since 2000. After the 2011 hunting seasons, it was estimated there were 376,000 mule deer in the state."  About 544,000 mule deer in the year 2000. Harsh winters in 1978-79, 1983-84 (resulting in a population crash), and 1992-93, reduced populations, also a severe outbreak of EHD in 2012 reduced white-tail populations.  Few fawns survived harsh winters in 2010 and 2011.  
     A study as part of the Mule Deer Initiative has explored why mule deer are not reaching their population goals. Reasons include drought, development, chronic wasting disease, and poor fawn production which has declined by about 20 percent in the last 25 years. To sustain hunting the herd needs about 66 fawns per 100 does, but the ratio has been below that since 1990. In 2012 it was at 63. The state is about 35 percent below objective.  Reduced stands of mahogany, a crucial winter food supply, has contributed to the mule deer population decline.
      Some deer migrate 170 miles in the Wyoming range. Over hunting on public land, habitat loss and fragmentation, and energy development are all thought to be contributing causes of the decline. Mule deer populations are generally in better shape on private land. Antelope populations have been on a steady decline over the last few years.  Hunting statistics
     Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was first identified in 1978 in deer at the Wyoming Fish and Game Department’s Sybille wildlife research facility.  It was first identified in wild deer in 1985 and elk in 1986.  In 2016 CWD was moving west toward Yellowstone.  A recent study concludes that "diseased whitetail east of Casper are declining 10 percent a year, and face extinction within half a century."  In 2019 there were 16 new positives for Chronic Wasting Disease and 131 testing positive out of 7,000.
     History:  Deer and elk were abundant in Wyoming but excessive, unregulated hunting dramatically reduced their numbers as well as those of other big game. 
The mule deer population was about 50,000 in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but a series of bad winters and hunting pressure reduced the population to about 30,000.
     Elk  Supplemental feeding by the state began in 1910.
     Wolves  At least 544 in 2015.  The last wolves in Yellowstone were killed in the 1920's then reintroduced starting in 1995.
     Moose populations are generally in decline with an exception of the Snowy Range herd.

The Stop Poaching Tip Line is 877-WGFD-TIP.  Or report online.

Other useful links:
- Wyoming Mule Deer Plan  - 2014 Mule Deer Migration on Pinedale Anticline 
- MuleyFanatic.com Mule deer organization in southwestern Wyoming
Platte Valley Habitat Partnership's (PVHP) Mule Deer Habitat Plan April, 2013
- Citizens for the Wyoming Range    - BLM Mule Deer Habitat Program
- Wyoming Game and Fish Department    - Facebook page
Wyoming Migration InitiativeAdvancing the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of Wyoming's migratory ungulates by conducting innovative research and sharing scientific information through public outreach. 


The mule deer has been the most abundant big game animal in the west for nearly a decade. Now the species is in crisis and the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit is conducting a study to find out why. Deer Project leader Matt Hayes of the University of Wyoming sees that mule deer populations in an area south of Rock Springs are declining while elk populations are rising and investigates this dynamic. - June 21, 2016