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Fall Mule Deer Survey Completed


The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s fall mule deer survey indicated the population continues to recover in the badlands.

Biologists counted 2,157 (1,958 in 2014) mule deer in the aerial survey in October. The buck-to-doe ratio of 0.42 (0.50 in 2014) is similar to the long-term average of 0.43 bucks per doe, while the fawn-to-doe ratio of 0.84 (0.95 in 2014) is slightly below the long-term average of 0.90 fawns per doe.

“The buck-to-doe ratio remains stable, and we had another year of good fawn production,” said Bruce Stillings, wildlife biologist. “Overall, the numbers are encouraging.”

While mule deer numbers look promising for the short-term, Stillings said challenges remain for continued population growth, including changes in habitat quality due to fragmentation and disturbance, predators and weather.

The fall aerial survey, conducted specifically to study demographics, covers 24 study areas and 306.3 square miles in western North Dakota. Biologists survey the same study areas in the spring of each year to determine population abundance.