Posted May 10, 2012, 8:34 am
Southern Utah study involves DWR, volunteers and two universities
There's no question that coyotes kill mule deer, especially fawns.
An upcoming study on Monroe Mountain will provide a wealth of information about the ways coyotes affect mule deer fawns.
Photo by Lynn Chamberlain
But just how many fawns do coyotes kill? And how does the killing affect the number of mule deer in Utah?
What about efforts to control coyotes? How effective are those efforts? And how do those efforts help deer in the state?
Biologists with the Division of Wildlife Resources want to know. In cooperation with Brigham Young University and Utah State University, they're launching a study to find out.
The study begins in June on Monroe Mountain in south-central Utah. If you'd like to help with the study, you can—biologists and university researchers need volunteers.
To learn more about the project and to sign up to help, plan on attending a meeting on May 17 in the auditorium at the Sixth District Courthouse in Richfield.
The May 17 meeting starts at 7 p.m. The courthouse is at 845 E. 300 N.
For more information, call the DWR's office in Cedar City at 435-865-6100.
Studying fawns and coyotes
Here's how the study this summer will work:
Millions spent to help Utah's mule deer
The study on Monroe Mountain is just one of several things the DWR and its partners are doing to help mule deer in Utah. In just the past six years, tens of millions of dollars have been spent to help the state's deer herds:
Restoring deer habitat: At a cost of more than $76 million, the DWR and its partners have improved mule deer habitat on nearly 780,000 acres over the past six years alone. Another 500,000 acres of habitat improvement is in the planning stages. These habitat improvements often take several years before they become established and are fully effective. But, in the future, this effort will result in healthier mule deer populations in Utah.
Reducing highway mortality: Deer-auto collisions kill thousands of deer in Utah annually. No one knows exactly how many are killed, but the DWR is working closely with the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) to reduce the number. Since 2005, UDOT has spent more than $47 million to build fences and highway-crossing structures to help both deer and elk cross roads safely. The DWR is also funding two Utah State University projects to learn more about the effect highway mortality is having on Utah's deer herds.
Stopping deer poachers: The DWR has put additional resources into the capture and prosecution of deer poachers. As a result, several criminals who have killed multiple deer have been arrested. One example of the effect the DWR's efforts are having is the reduced number of big game animals that were killed illegally during the past two winters, a time when deer are especially vulnerable to poaching.
During the winter of 2010–2011, DWR officers know of 72 big game animals that were illegally killed. During the winter of 2011–2012, that number dropped to 57.
Limiting the spread of disease: More than $1 million has been spent to research and monitor chronic wasting and other diseases that affect mule deer in Utah.
Monitoring deer on winter range: Winter is the most critical time in a mule deer's life. Survival is difficult even under the best of circumstances. Each winter, biologists monitor the activity of deer in wintering areas, paying close attention to range conditions, snow depth, the temperature of the air and the body condition of the deer.
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