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Mule Deer Management Plan Update

WEBINARS PRESENTING DRAFT MULE DEER PLAN: Join ODFW wildlife biologists during these hour-long webinars where they present information on various chapters in the Plan (see chapters below); presentations are followed by a Q&A with biologists with a moderator asking questions submitted by the public (ask a question or submit a comment via this form). The webinar format makes it easy for anyone to attend and have a chance to engage with staff working on the Plan by asking questions. Recordings of each webinar will be posted for future viewing.

Migration Matters: The migratory journeys of mule deer in Oregon (flipbook version)
Printable version (pdf)

Migration Matters

Mule deer are an iconic species in Oregon and across the western United States, valued by hunters and wildlife viewers alike.

In the past decade, ODFW has conducted extensive research on this species to try and understand the reasons behind declining populations, a trend that’s happening across the West. Researchers collared hundreds of mule deer and tracked movements and survival to get an accurate picture of what’s happening to mule deer.

Wildlife biologists are now re-writing the Mule Deer Management Plan (last updated in 2003) to incorporate this innovative research and the latest available science on this species.

The Plan’s goal is to provide a framework for Oregonians to improve conditions for mule deer in eastern Oregon and ultimately slow or reverse the species’ decline. In particular, the Plan can serve as a guide for natural resource agencies and landowners to create conditions that benefit mule deer and a variety of other species with similar habitat needs. 

The new plan will:

Establish how ODFW will monitor populations and allocate harvest moving forward. The Plan will address how ODFW intends to use newly defined herd ranges, based off mule deer movements, to ensure survey data collecting during winter applies to the same populations as hunter harvest from summer-autumn.

Address the following factors potentially limiting mule deer populations:

Habitat degradation: Beyond protecting winter range, the Plan will take a closer look at the critical role summer range plays in mule deer survival. Unfortunately, the quality and quantity of forage has declined in Oregon, making females less able to sustain pregnancies and more likely to produce fawns vulnerable to severe weather, predation and disease. The Plan will also look at options for increasing habitat enhancements after fire so invasives don’t get a foothold first.

Climate change: Changing conditions have reduced spring growing seasons and increased duration of shrub senescence (period without growth), a recent study in Starkey Experimental Forest shows. The Plan will discuss observed and expected impacts and suggest ways to mitigate the worst impacts.

Migration corridors/connectivity: The Plan will look at how best to use state and federal funds earmarked for wildlife crossings and connectivity, which have increased recently.

Predation, energy development, disease, urban deer conflict, agricultural conflict, poaching and other issues will also be addressed in the Plan using the latest science and research.


Public process for the Mule Deer Plan Update

Mule deer and other wildlife are managed for the public’s interest meaning all Oregonians own this unique resource. ODFW encourages everyone who is interested in the future of mule deer to get involved.

All draft chapters of the Plan will be available for public review and comment on until the final chapter is complete. Chapters will be modified based on public comment with the goal of completing a revised version of the plan in late 2023. The Plan will then go before the Fish and Wildlife Commission for an additional public process, final approval and adoption as early as February 2024.

How to stay up to date on the Plan rewrite:

Updated DRAFT Mule Deer Management Plan

The plan itself is a lengthy document that has been broken into chapters with a table of contents to ease in navigating it. Click on each section below to read more about it.

Upcoming chapters and release dates

Migration/habitat fragmentation
Economics and Social Values
Harvest Management
Anthropogenic Impacts (e.g., development, energy development, recreation)

Other resources related to the plan:


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