The Highway and Mule Deer

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The Highway and Mule Deer Podcast

This is one of those subjects that I think a lot of us have in the back of our minds regarding mule deer numbers, but when you look at western collaring data, it’s a little sobering to see migrations coming to a screeching holt at interstate systems. And it’s not just fences, in many places, they just don’t go near an interstate or busy highway.

How many migrations have we lost?
IMG_6913.jpeg
 

robby denning

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I see places on that map where I-15 and 1-80 seem to have completely cut off migrations. I always thought at least some still migrated over them but the map shows most just stop! Amazing and sickening
 
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Travis Hobbs
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I see places on that map where I-15 and 1-80 seem to have completely cut off migrations. I always thought at least some still migrated over them but the map shows most just stop! Amazing and sickening
I think we would really be shocked if we had collar data prior to interstate system.

And another reason we will probably not see deer numbers like they were prior to 80’s
 

TaperPin

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I have met a NDOT employee who specifically designs wildlife bridges. She did a PHD on it. The data comparing wildlife bridges over/ under highways compared to highways without this access is insane
At first I was thinking interstates in Wyoming are sort of at natural breaks in populations, but it would be a boost to the south western deer to get some genetics from the better known herds that winter north of I80. At least it’s been my impression those deer south of I80 are wide, but lack deep forks and overall boxy racks.

Wildlife bridges are an awesome idea - all the windmill companies along I80 should be forced to help foot the bill.
 
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Travis Hobbs
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At first I was thinking interstates in Wyoming are sort of at natural breaks in populations, but it would be a boost to the south western deer to get some genetics from the better known herds that winter north of I80. At least it’s been my impression those deer south of I80 are wide, but lack deep forks and overall boxy racks.

Wildlife bridges are an awesome idea - all the windmill companies along I80 should be forced to help foot the bill.
A lot of the deer wintering in the Wyoming red desert get close to freeway and don’t even attempt crossing. It’s really unreal looking at collar data…. It makes me wonder just how far some of the migration routes could have been.

The other fascinating thing, we have far less than 1% of the deer on the landscape collared at any time, and it seems like new information is coming out every year.
 

TheTone

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The IDFG roadkill database is sobering. It’s a constant source of mortality on wildlife every day of the year. I’d be really curious what the reporting rate is for animals that are observed but not salvaged. I know one of the moose units near me probably has as many if not more moose killed on the road than it does by hunters most years
 
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The IDFG roadkill database is sobering. It’s a constant source of mortality on wildlife every day of the year. I’d be really curious what the reporting rate is for animals that are observed but not salvaged. I know one of the moose units near me probably has as many if not more moose killed on the road than it does by hunters most years
It's Utah but a student at USU did a study on how many deer remain in the median vs are able to get out of sight. 70% made it out of sight.
Another thing is all the winter hits on does are a two for one.
@Travis Hobbs can you ask Matt if collisions are consistent throughout year or more common in winter?
 
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Travis Hobbs
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It's Utah but a student at USU did a study on how many deer remain in the median vs are able to get out of sight. 70% made it out of sight.
Another thing is all the winter hits on does are a two for one.
@Travis Hobbs can you ask Matt if collisions are consistent throughout year or more common in winter?

I believe he told me, the highest rates of collision occur during the month of November (highest migration) but I will try and follow up with him.

I believe in one of the meetings I attended, Wyoming also said the same thing, although I think it was more referring to the final quarter of the year (Oct, Nov, Dec)
 

TButtars

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Great podcast. I can personally think of several places the deer pile up against the freeway. It really makes a guy wonder how much it limits the migration and how far the deer really would go. It also makes me wonder how much it limits the carrying capacity of that area…….

I wish we could get more wildlife crossing sucks there are so many moving parts and expenses that I would have never thought of tell hearing this podcast.

I’ve always been the guy that complains about why don’t they put in some underpasses in for all these poor wintering deer…….well at least now I know what really goes into it all.

Once again thanks for continuing to bring us all this awesome content on mule deer.
 

TButtars

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Also if anyone is looking for the map that @Travis Hobbs posted above it is on the USGS ungulate migrations of the western united state but good luck getting it to download its super glitchy……. on a phone anyway.
 
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