Wyoming’s mule deer are facing threats from all sides: predators, habitat loss, shrinking food sources, disease and more, says an avid Wyoming outdoorsman on a mission to help mitigate those threats.
Competition with elk doesn’t help either, Josh Coursey told Cowboy State Daily.
“Mule deer eat less than two dozen forbs and forms of forage, whereas elk have more than 200 food sources to chose from,” he said.
Coursey is president and CEO of the Muley Fanatic Foundation, a deer conservation group. The foundation, along with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, is hosting the Inaugural Mule Deer Days on Friday and Saturday at the Sweetwater Events Complex in Rock Springs.
The event will focus on mule deer conservation and how wildlife experts, hunters and others can help protect and preserve Wyoming’s shrinking herds, Coursey said.
Oh, Give Them A Home …
One improvement that’s been square in the crosshairs of the Wyoming wildlife radar is providing safer paths for game animals, including mule deer, across busy highways.
A combination overpass/underpass for critters was completed this past summer along a stretch of U.S. Highway 160 between Durango and Pagosa Springs, Colorado, that’s estimated to save nearly 2,000 animals a year.
There are similar wildlife crossings in Wyoming, and more are planned. Some of the pending projects include the proposed Halleck Ridge wildlife overpass along Interstate 80 near Elk Mountain in an area that mule deer frequently traverse as they migrate back and forth between summer and winter ranges.
If You Go
The event will feature numerous 30-minute seminars from experts in various fields. Some of those include information about predators, mule deer habitat, how hunters can properly process a carcass in the field and more. A full schedule of events and admission tickets is available online.
Mule Deer Days also will include events for kids, as well as gun raffles and door prizes, Coursey said. Many big-name outdoor and hunting gear vendors will be on site.
Ticket sales have been brisk, and it’s hoped that this conference will be the first of many, he added.
“The only way we’re going to continue to grow this is to look for a larger venue,” Coursey said.