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Elk WILDLIFE DIVISION
Regulating harvest, health, and enhancement of wildlife populations
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Mule Deer Plan Update

Oregon’s Revised Draft of the Mule Deer Management Plan is now available here. The revised version contains an update to Appendix 1: Management Objectives, and Appendix 2: Herd Range Reports. Appendix 2 includes priority action items that will be used to focus management activities over the next 3 years for all 22 herd ranges in eastern Oregon.

Thanks to all who provided feedback during this process. We have been pleased with the level of engagement with the Plan.

More about the rewrite of Oregon’s Mule Deer Management Plan:

  • 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 on the landscape.
  • The Mule Deer Management Plan was last updated in 2003, and this this innovative research has been incorporated into the latest draft.
  • 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. 

Highlights of the Draft Plan:

  • Establishes how ODFW will monitor populations and allocate harvest moving forward. The Plan addresses how ODFW intends to use newly defined herd ranges, based off mule deer movements, to ensure survey data collected during winter applies to the same populations as hunter harvest from summer-autumn.
  • Addresses potentially limiting factors affecting mule deer populations including:
    • Bullfrog
      Habitat degradation: Beyond protecting winter range, the Plan takes 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 also looks 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 discusses observed and expected impacts and suggest ways to mitigate the worst impacts.
    • Migration corridors/connectivity: The Plan looks 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 are also addressed using the latest science and research.

Webinars Presenting Draft Mule Deer Plan:

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

Migration Matters

Other resources related to the plan:

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