Game and Fish surveys show increase in mule deer and antelope fawn numbers
by Wyoming Game and Fish
February 19, 2015
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s annual surveys of pronghorn antelope and mule deer herds this fall and winter show higher than average numbers of fawns. This is significant because population growth is driven by the number of fawns that are born and survive to their first birthday. Game and Fish attributes some of the increases to improved moisture conditions.
For mule deer herds, Game and Fish’s statewide surveys show positive results, with the number of fawns per 100 does well above recent averages. Several herds had more than 80 fawns per 100 does. Research shows at least 66 fawns per 100 does are needed to support population growth.
"Survey results from this fall and winter are encouraging. Drought conditions, which began in earnest in 2000, coupled with disease outbreaks and predation have been hard on antelope and mule deer throughout the state. To see a spike in fawns across Wyoming shows how important moisture and habitat are to antelope and mule deer. This is why we have put such an emphasis on improving habitat for wildlife with partners like the Governor’s Big Game License Coalition and the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust," said Scott Smith, deputy chief of the Game and Fish’s Wildlife Division.
This fall, Game and Fish surveyed pronghorn antelope herds across the state. Overall, many herds showed an increase in fawns per 100 does. Some examples include, the Cheyenne River Herd covering parts of Converse, Weston and Niobrara Counties with 91 fawns per 100 does. The average from 2009-2013 was 63 per 100. In Washakie and Hot Springs Counties the Copper Mountain Herd had 89 fawns per 100 does, while the 2009-2013 average was 58.
Pronghorn antelope and mule deer are the two most populous big game animals in Wyoming. Both species have been in decline across western North America over the last two decades.