Jim Heffelfinger, Chair
Arizona Game and Fish Department
5000 W. Carefree Highway
Phoenix, AZ  85086
Phone: 520-975-6322

Mike Fowlks, Director Sponsor

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.

This is now available on Amazon 

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 Last Updated Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 01 Predators.pdf 9/29/2015 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 02 Winter Feeding.pdf 9/29/2015 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 03 Highway.pdf 9/29/2015 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 04 Deer Elk.pdf 9/5/2017 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 05 Carrying Capacity.pdf 9/30/2015 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 06 APRs.pdf 9/29/2015 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 07 Antlerless Harvest.pdf 9/29/2015 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 08 Poaching.pdf 9/29/2015 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 09 Urban Issues.pdf 9/29/2015 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 10 Translocation.pdf 9/29/2015 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 11 Diseases Parasites.pdf 9/29/2015 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 12 Migration.pdf 9/29/2015 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 13 Fencing.pdf 9/29/2015 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 14 Fertility Control.pdf 6/8/2017 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 15 Forestry Practices.pdf 6/8/2017 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 16 Shed Antler Hunting.pdf 6/8/2017 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 17 Winter Range Disturbance.pdf 1/9/2017 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 18 Mule Deer & the Effects of Fire Web.pdf 9/5/2017 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 19 Mule Deer Nutrition Web.pdf 9/5/2017 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 20 Mule Deer Manag & Public Process Web.pdf 9/5/2017 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 21 Pinion-Juniper Management Web.pdf 9/5/2017 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 22 Habitat Conversion By Wildlife.pdf 9/5/2017 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 23 MD and WT Ecol Interaction Web.pdf 5/10/2018 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 24 Mature Bucks or Opportunity.pdf 4/30/2019 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 25 Water Development.pdf 4/30/2019 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 26 Encountering Fawns Web.pdf 5/10/2018 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 27 Antler Development web version.pdf 4/30/2019 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 28 Pop Manage Objectivespdf.pdf 4/30/2019 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 29 Wild Horses Burros Web.pdf 4/29/2019 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 30 MD x WTD Hybridization Web version.pdf 10/11/2019 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 31 Assessing MD Harvest Web.pdf 4/29/2019 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 32 Historical and Current MD Abundance Web (2).pdf 10/11/2019 Download
MDWG Fact Sheet 33 Aerial Inventory.pdf 12/3/2019 Download

Methods for Monitoring Mule Deer Populations





Energy Development Guidelines for Mule Deer





2020 Range-wide Status of Mule Deer and Black-tailed Deer





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

Consideration of Disease Risks in Translocation of Deer by Wildlife Management Agencies

A publication about disease risks involved with deer translocation by wildlife management agencies.




Recommendations for Adaptive Management of Chronic Wasting Disease in the West

PDF Copy






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.