Archive for the 'mule deer' Category

Restoring the Past

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

Mule Deer Buck

This is Passport

Found in the Trans Pecos and Panhandle ecoregions, mule deer is an iconic Texas species. Biologist, Shawn Gray, says populations cycle up and down over the years.

A long, long, long time ago, we used to have a lot of mule deer up in the panhandle before European settlement. But, through different range practices, and different land use practices and unregulated hunting, we depleted the mule deer population up there. But through years of better management and restoration efforts, it seems like the population up there is doing pretty well now.

Gray is the state’s mule deer program leader. Texas has an estimated population of 285,000 mule deer…that’s despite a decline in the Trans Pecos population at the Black Gap WMA during the last drought.

In 2011, we reached almost an all-time low in our mule deer herd from the 70s. So, when you look at that 2011 number to today, we’re looking a lot better, for sure.

Through focused population management, including translocation of animals to these areas, as well as habitat improvements, the state’s mule deer population is stable to increasing.

There’s not very many places that really need a lot more mule deer. And hopefully we’re beyond that [translocation] with our last translocation to the Black Gap, if everything’s working in our favor.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series and funds Mule Deer restoration in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

TPW TV — Mules of the Plains

Friday, December 22nd, 2017
Mule deer buck

Mule deer buck

This is Passport to Texas

The panhandle of Texas is the epitome of rural. And mule deer can be found nearly everywhere. Just ask local, Rodney Geissler.

It’s not unusual to nearly be able to walk plumb up on a mule deer. [Truck door closes] Or drive up on one. If they’re out in the field next to the highway you can stop and take pictures of them [camera clicks].

In fall and winter it’s common to see groups of up to 200 mule deer grazing in wheat fields. And that interests biologists like Thomas Janke.

One of the big questions of this project is dealing with agriculture land versus the rangeland like you see behind me.

Janke is studying how mule deer movements and survival are influenced by panhandle agriculture.

Is there a difference in the nutritional value of the plants? Or is it the deer are picking it just because it’s out here and they have a buffet.

During the week of December 24, the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS will feature a segment on the mule deer study, which shows how they use helicopters to track and trap the animals.

We have deer that are radio collared that we captured back in 2015. The radio collars all transmit a signal. Those radio collars are allowing the helicopter crew to use radio telemetry and locate them.

Check your local listings.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series, and funds mule deer research in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Introducing Mule Deer to their New Home

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017
Black Gap WMA

Black Gap WMA

This is Passport to Texas

Shawn Gray oversees the mule deer restoration program for Texas Parks and Wildlife. Over the past two years, with the help of partners, the program identified available surplus animals on public and private land and moved them to Black Gap Wildlife Management Area.

We have moved over two hundred female mule deer.

Gray says the program radio collars 30 to 40 percent of the animals before release.

Some captured deer had a “soft release” which involved keeping them in a fenced area for a couple of weeks allowing them to acclimate to their surroundings. Then, when freed…

They don’t go as far; they tend to stay where you released them.

Other deer had a “hard release”. They were let out of the trailers and allowed to immediately run free.

We have seen one or two of our [radio collared] translocated animals go back to where they were captured. Those were the ones that were hard released. The animals that we have soft released, we have not observed them going back to their home. We’ve observed them doing a lot of exploratory type movements. Figuring out their new home. But for the most part, those animals are staying in and around Black Gap Wildlife management Area.

Which makes all the hard work, planning and coordination worth it.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Mule Deer Restoration

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017
Mule deer in Texas

Mule deer in Texas

This is Passport to Texas

The mule deer population is struggling in parts of the Big Bend region of far West Texas.

We’ve been trying to boost our populations in the Black Gap area since about 2015.

Shawn Gray oversees mule deer restoration. Unlike other mule deer populations, those at Black Gap never fully recovered after the last drought.

We had been monitoring that population for years, and it just remained stagnant. And so, the next decision we made was, well, let’s put some animals down there and try to boost it and see if we can’t get the population trending upward.

During population surveys last fall, biologists identified an available of surplus of animals at Elephant Mountain Wildlife Wildlife Management, and one private ranch in Pecos County. Using the helicopter and net gun method, they trapped the animals.

Once we caught them, we radio-collared and tagged them. We gave them a series of injections for health reason, and then loaded them in trailers and took them down to release them.

Shawn Gray says this spring they moved 98 female mule deer to the Black Gap Wildlife Wildlife Management Area and to the adjacent El Carmen Land & Conservation Company, which together comprise 135,000 contiguous acres dedicated to wildlife and habitat conservation.

Of those radio-collared animals, we monitor intensively, looking at survival and movement—habitat use. We use all those findings to help improve the habitat and help improve our survival.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.