Movin’ Mule Deer

This week’s blog is a guest post written by Samuel W., a Bucktails alumni. Samuel plans on pursuing a career in forestry. Samuel enjoys hiking and just being outside. He also enjoys drawing, painting and, playing a variety of instruments. When Samuel is outside he spends his time looking at trees and making metal notes of which species are where and which species are growing the best in that particular area. He was interested in WLA because he knew that he would learn lot about forestry and also it gave him a place to learn and use leadership skills.

The migration of Mule deer is imperative to their survival. Mule deer are one of only three species of deer to migrate. The migration of Mule deer is being tracked by biologists using radio collars that send information about the location of each deer. With this information, biologists are able to learn a lot about the paths and habits of Mule deer during migration.

Most people are in Pennsylvania familiar with White-tailed deer, but maybe not so much with Mule deer. The ears of the Mule deer are large when compared to other species of deer, which is the reason they get this name, they resemble the ear of a mule. The differences between Mule deer and White tailed deer don’t stop there. The antlers of a White tailed deer generally have many tines branching from one main tine, but Mule deer have one main tine that splits into two tines, then each of those tines split. The tails of the two species of deer are also distinctively different. A White tailed deer has a wide, triangle-shaped tail with white on the underside. A Mule deer has a longer narrower tail with a black tip.

A Mule deer buck scanning the horizon

White tailed deer and Mule deer inhabit the same region, but they don’t usually interact with each other. Both species of deer have a lot in common, but they also have distinctively different features. Mule Deer mostly populate the Northern- Rocky Mountain states like Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, but they are scattered throughout Western North America. Though they are wide spread, the population is said to be declining from increase in predators and disease. Another reason for the population decline is because of infrastructure like roads and tall fences. This inhibits the migration of the Mule deer, making it harder for them to get to better food supplies. Mule deer migrate in the Fall to cope with heavy snow and in the Spring to find better sources of food. The decline of Mule deer is not yet too serious, but it is being heavily monitored because it is a keystone species. That means the absence or over population of Mule deer will severely change the entire ecosystem.

The Mule deer is a very important species to the ecosystem. It is similar to the White-tailed deer but still different in some features. The information we know of this animal is discovered by biologists, but is very important to many people like hunters and people traveling to view the animal.

The photo used in this blog was sourced from the internet. It can be found here.