Low Mule Deer numbers show the effect of the 2022/23 serve winter



Photo courtesy of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department\

March 1, 2024 — Wyo4News Staff/Press Release

Wyoming Game and Fish Department wildlife managers recently completed an aerial population survey of the Wyoming Range mule deer herd and now better understand how the 2022-23 severe winter impacted the population.

Wildlife biologists estimate the current herd number to be about 11,000 animals, which is a considerable decline from the February 2023 estimate of nearly 30,000 mule deer. Results also indicated the fawn ratio for the deer herd was 34 fawns for every 100 does, the lowest on record since the herd was designated in 1982. Low fawn ratios can be attributed to the intense energy demands of a harsh winter. 


The buck ratio was observed to be 24 bucks for every 100 does, which also is one of the lowest on record. Wildlife managers observed low yearling buck numbers, which can be attributed to the high mortality of buck fawns that came into the 2022-2023 winter. This herd is managed toward a buck ratio objective of 30-45 bucks per 100 does.

“Game and Fish biologists and wardens wouldn’t typically conduct intensive aerial surveys two years in a row due to the high costs and flight time involved,” Wyoming Game and Fish Department Deputy Chief of Wildlife Doug Brimeyer said. “However, given the unprecedented winter of 2022-23, regional managers decided it was important to obtain an accurate and full picture of this herd’s population.”