Big Blizzards Tough On Mule Deer

Mar 15, 2019

This winter, our region has seen heavy snowfall. That can be tough on wildlife.

"In late winter and early spring, when we see these big storms it can mean poor survival," said Tayler LaSharr who is with the Wyoming Range Mule Deer Project.

She's been out in the field this week monitoring radio-collared deer to check their condition.

"Down south . . . probably three-quarters of the fawns that entered winter have died, and the leading cause of death has been starvation or malnutrition," she said.

LaSharr said the herd in southwestern Wyoming close to Idaho and Utah was hit especially hard.

Deep snow makes vegetation hard to access and so animals like mule deer must rely on their fat reserves for energy. And when late winter storms come through those reserves are already close to depleted.

She said one of the study animals died this week.

"She had just laid down and died because she used up all her fat reserves."

LaSharr said you may see an increased amount of mule deer near roads and highways where it's easier for them to forage, so drivers should be cautious.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.