Mule deer

The effects of predators on mule deer herds

The relationship between predator and prey is not always what it seems.


F THERE'S ONE WORD that can get a deer hunter's blood boiling, it's this one — "predator."

But are deer hunters focusing their frustration on the right target? Are predators really the main reason the number of deer in Utah isn't at the level many hunters want to see? What role do other factors, such as habitat, play in the number of deer in the state?

And those are just the beginning of the questions one might ask. For example, do all predators affect deer herds the same way? And if Utah's deer herds are going to grow, which part of the herds are the most critical part to protect — adults or fawns?

And finally, what's the Division of Wildlife Resources doing to address predator versus mule deer issues in Utah?

You'll find answers to all of these questions at the links below.

What is the DWR doing to control predators in Utah?

The Division of Wildlife Resources has taken several measures over the past decade to control predator populations in Utah. The following are among those measures:

These measures appear to have worked. Data collected by DWR biologists indicate the number of cougars in Utah is much lower now than it was 10 years ago.

The DWR continues to focus cougar harvest in areas that will help mule deer and bighorn sheep the most by putting those areas under special predator management plans.

Currently, 22 of Utah's 49 cougar units are managed under a predator management plan.