Wyoming Range Mule Deer Habitat Summary Report
Author(s):Publication Date: 2006-08
Tags: WLCI, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, WLCI Agency Report
All over the west, management agencies and researchers are concerned with mule deer
(Odocoileus hemionus) populations that have been in a general decline over the past few
decades. Though reasons why are compounding and very complex, a common theme
that has become obvious is habitat quality and the amount available. This report provides
a summary of various habitat monitoring and improvement projects, loss of habitat, and
status of the Wyoming Range deer herd over the last half century.
The Wyoming Range mule deer herd occupies an estimated 4,437 mi
from the Hoback River south to the Redeye Basin, and encompasses much of the land west of the Green River to the Idaho border, which contains the Wyoming and Salt River mountain ranges.
Ownership of the land is distributed between U.S. Forest Service (40%), Bureau of Land
Management (35%), and state and private property (25%), and provides various seasonal
habitats defined largely by elevation gradients (Figure 1) (Fralick 1995). Lower
elevations provide winter habitat that are dominated by sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) and
salt desert shrub communities on the eastern side of the herd unit while mountain shrubs
such as serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), chokecherry (Prunus spp.), mountain mahogany
(Cercocarpus spp.), and bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata) contribute a large amount of
forage to the southern end. On middle elevations we typically find aspen (Populus
tremuloides), sagebrush, and conifer mixtures that provide important fawning habitat and
transitional range during migration periods. The high elevations are summer ranges that
typically contain lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) and spruce-fir stands as well as several
tall forb communities.