Mule deer and other wildlife just got a major boost thanks to $1.06 million raised for conservation projects through Utah’s Watershed Restoration Initiative. The funding boost was a collaboration between the Mule Deer Foundation (MDF) and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Monies were raised from the sale of Utah conservation permits as well as the 200-tag drawing, which was held during the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo in February, according to a press release.
“The Mule Deer Foundation is thrilled to help fund projects that address critical limiting factors to the health of Utah’s mule deer herd. These projects also provide benefits for numerous other wildlife that use these same habitats, as well as the people and communities that depend on the landscapes in our state,” said MDF President/CEO Joel Pedersen.
The funds will go towards several projects slated to help mule deer, elk, antelope, moose, wild turkeys and sage grouse. Specifically, $70,000 will be given to the Utah Migration Initiative, which uses GPS collars to monitor migration patterns and usage to better manage and establish safe migration routes.
“We have learned a great deal through the Utah Migration Initiative research, including that our deer are not coming into the winter in optimal body condition,” said Jeremy Anderson, MDF’s Utah regional director. “Because of this, we directed significant funding to help improve habitat on summer ranges for the Book Cliffs and Boulder Mountain herds. In addition, we allocated $30,000 for chapter-led projects to plant shrubs in the Santaquin and Levan Wildlife Management Areas to improve forage in important mule deer winter range habitat.”
Other projects that will benefit from the funding include the Boulder Mountain Landscape Health Improvement, which will improve key habitat for mule deer in the Book Cliffs and Boulder Mountain herds, and MDF’s Burnt Beaver and Bear River stewardship projects on the Uinta Mountains to “improve forest health and reduce the risk of wildfire in important mule deer summer range,” according to the press release.
“The projects that were funded wouldn’t be possible without the money raised through MDF banquets in Utah and the people that purchase the Conservation Permits through our fundraising auctions and participate in the 200 tag drawing,” said Pedersen. “These supporters are truly making a difference for mule deer and other wildlife in the state of Utah.”