While deer seem all too common in urban areas these days, wild mule deer populations are another story.
At least in some areas of B.C.’s southern interior.
“We have anecdotal reports for probably 60 to 80 years that, in some spots, mule deer are declining,” Jesse Zeman of the B.C. Wildlife Federation said.
Now it’s hoped a new million-dollar study by the BCWF will help reverse that trend.
“We’re not seeing mule deer like we used to. Mule deer are a really important species; they are iconic,” said Zeman.
The B.C. Interior Mule Deer Project is the largest project of its kind ever undertaken in the province.
The multi-partner project is in year one of a proposed five-year life cycle and is currently focused on data collection.
Adam Ford is an assistant professor of biology at UBCO and is one of the project’s leading researchers
“We’re just getting started, so we did some captures in the spring so adult female animals fit with GPS collars,” Ford said.
Although it is early, preliminary data shows that mule deer populations face a number of challenges, from predation to habitat to competition.
Biologists and hunters alike are hoping the scientific evidence they collect will help the provincial government make better decisions when it comes protecting the species.
“The goal is to restore mule deer to the landscape. We just need to see that happen and what we’ve done the past just isn’t working, so it’s time to try something different,” said Ford.