Jim Heffelfinger, Chair
Arizona Game and Fish Department
555 N. Greasewood Road
Tucson, AZ  85745
Phone: 520-388-4448
Fax: 520-628-5080

Mule Deer Ecoregions

Mule Deer Conservation: Issues and Challenges

The goal of this book is to summarize and synthesize the available information on mule deer ecology and management into a useful reference document.  Advances in technology combined with more sophisticated experimental design has added considerable insight to the foundations of mule deer ecology described in the classic “Mule and black-tailed deer of North America” edited by O. C. Wallmo and published in 1981.  Integration of new information into management approaches, accompanied by proper evaluation, has assisted in fine-tuning management strategies to provide for healthy mule deer populations throughout the western states and provinces.

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies created the Mule deer working group in 1998 to address concerns about the long-term decline in mule deer numbers. The group, consisting of wildlife biologists from western states and Canadian provinces, has collectively pooled the available scientific knowledge on all aspects of mule deer biology and ecology into one source.

This book is organized into nine chapters, with 8 chapters reviewing the major influences on mule deer and one chapter examining the critically important area of data collection and use.  With chapters written and reviewed by 20 active mule deer managers and researchers; the information is as timely as one can hope for.

The mule deer has become a symbol of the West because the species spans the West from Mexico well into Canada.  The continuing evolution of western land management requires that wildlife managers anticipate these changes in land use and make recommendations based on the best science available.  Emergence of new issues will require continued emphasis on both population and habitat monitoring.  This text will certainly contribute to the body of scientific information used by managers, researchers and mule deer enthusiasts.

Print an order form

Habitat Guidelines

Name OwnerCategoryLast UpdatedSize Download
CA Mule Deer Habitat Guidelines.pdf Neoreef HostPublications5/18/2015 4.51 MB Download
Coastal_Rainforest_BTD_Habitat_Guidelines.pdf Neoreef HostPublications5/18/2015 6.19 MB Download
CPE_Mule_Deer_Habitat_Guidelines.pdf Neoreef HostPublications5/18/2015 6.01 MB Download
Great_Plains_Mule_Deer_Habitat_Guidelines.pdf Neoreef HostPublications5/18/2015 1.81 MB Download
IMW_Mule_Deer_Habitat_Guidelines.pdf Neoreef HostPublications5/18/2015 2.94 MB Download
Mule Deer and Movement Barriers FINAL.pdf Neoreef HostPublications2/25/2016 1.81 MB Download
Northern_Forest_Mule_Deer_Habitat_Guidelines.pdf Neoreef HostPublications5/18/2015 6.65 MB Download
SW_Mule_Deer_Habitat_Guidelines_V2.pdf Neoreef HostPublications5/29/2015 4.39 MB Download

North American Mule Deer Conservation Plan

An interagency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in support of this conservation plan has been signed by major land management agencies and WAFWA.  

PDF Copy


Mule Deer: Changing Landscapes, Changing Perspectives

Available in a downloadable PDF version or hardcopies of this document are also available from your local State or Provincial wildlife management agency.




Mule Deer and Movement Barriers

A publication about the movement and travel patterns of Mule Deer and the barriers to them.




Fact Sheets

Name OwnerCategoryLast UpdatedSize Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 01 Predators.pdf Neoreef HostFactSheets6/3/2015 2.96 MB Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 02 Winter Feeding.pdf Neoreef HostFactSheets6/3/2015 2.61 MB Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 03 Highway.pdf Neoreef HostFactSheets6/3/2015 2.83 MB Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 04 Deer Elk.pdf Neoreef HostFactSheets6/3/2015 2.46 MB Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 05 Carrying Capacity.pdf Neoreef HostFactSheets6/3/2015 2.75 MB Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 06 APRs.pdf Neoreef HostFactSheets6/3/2015 2.77 MB Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 07 Antlerless Harvest.pdf Neoreef HostFactSheets6/3/2015 2.78 MB Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 08 Poaching.pdf Neoreef HostFactSheets6/3/2015 2.55 MB Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 09 Urban Issues.pdf Neoreef HostFactSheets6/3/2015 2.60 MB Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 10 Translocation.pdf Neoreef HostFactSheets5/28/2015 2.73 MB Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 11 Diseases Parasites.pdf Neoreef HostFactSheets6/3/2015 2.76 MB Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 12 Migration.pdf Neoreef HostFactSheets5/28/2015 2.57 MB Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 13 Fencing.pdf Neoreef HostFactSheets5/28/2015 2.99 MB Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 14 Fertility Control.pdf Neoreef HostFactSheets2/25/2016 4.66 MB Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 15 Forestry Practices.pdf Neoreef HostFactSheets3/23/2016 5.94 MB Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 16 Shed Antler Hunting.pdf Neoreef HostFactSheets2/25/2016 2.84 MB Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 17 Winter Range Disturbance.pdf Neoreef HostFactSheets2/25/2016 2.57 MB Download

Methods for Monitoring Mule Deer Populations





Energy Development Guidelines for Mule Deer





2016 Range-wide Status of Mule Deer and Black-tailed Deer





Range-Wide Status Updates

Name OwnerCategoryLast UpdatedSize Download
2010_Black-tailed and Mule Deer Status Update.pdf WAFWA AdminRange-Wide Status9/19/2016 181 KB Download
2011_Black-tailed and Mule Deer Status Update.pdf WAFWA AdminRange-Wide Status9/19/2016 390 KB Download
2012_Black-tailed and Mule Deer Status Update.pdf WAFWA AdminRange-Wide Status9/19/2016 586 KB Download
2013_Black-tailed and Mule Deer Status Update.pdf WAFWA AdminRange-Wide Status9/19/2016 694 KB Download
2014_Black-tailed and Mule Deer Status Update.pdf WAFWA AdminRange-Wide Status9/19/2016 697 KB Download
2015_Black-tailed and Mule Deer Status Update.pdf WAFWA AdminRange-Wide Status9/19/2016 870 KB Download
2016_Black-tailed and Mule Deer Status Update.pdf WAFWA AdminRange-Wide Status9/19/2016 1.15 MB Download

Mule Deer: Saving the Icon of the West

Tim Abell hosts this look into the challenges facing mule deer. We'll meet the dedicated people working to help this majestic icon of the West.  This video was produced by the Mule Deer Working Group with financial assistance from the Mule Deer Foundation and the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

This video production aired on the Sportsman Channel and the entire show is now available here.


Predator Relationships with Black-Tailed and Mule Deer in North America





Manuscript titled: “A Case for Standardized Ungulate Surveys and Data Management in the Western United States.” Which calls for an improvement in how consistently survey data is collected and stored.



Interactive Map

Interactive Map of North American black-tailed and mule deer habitat  This link takes you to the Remote Sensing/GIS Lab website at Utah State University were you can download GIS files and a map (Note: these maps are intended to be used at a very macro scale throughout mule deer range and not to plan local projects).

Or, if you use Google Earth on your computer, simply clicking on these links will allow you to view this information in that program.

Summer Range

Winter Range

Year-round Range

Winter Concentration Areas

Limited Range

Other Important Habitat Features

Overall Habitat Map

You can find a description of these categories HERE

Top Ten Research Priorities

We asked Mule Deer Working Group representatives to rank research needs in order of importance from the highest rank “Extremely important and urgently needed research” to the lowest “Unnecessary research: I oppose spending money on this research.”  Their choices indicate how important they believe research on that topic is for mule deer management.             


  1. Impacts of Energy Development.                  
  2. Ecological relationships between mule deer and their habitat (nutritional condition and reproductive success).                 
  3. Evaluation of success of habitat treatment (possibility of looking at digestible energy for deer and work at the nutritional level).            
  4. Evaluation of habitat mitigation effectiveness.                      
  5. Predation (levels, how much can a population sustain).                   
  6. Predation influences of new predators in the system.                       
  7. Impact of highway mortalities, knowledge of crossing structure effectiveness.       
  8. Need to encourage migration studies on new highway projects.                   
  9. Elk competition with mule deer (NV has some info they are looking at).                 
  10. Better knowledge of health status and disease incidence.                  


We also have more detailed information and prioritized lists for each of the 7 ecoregions in North America here.