Kansas, a state where whitetail and mule deer roam the landscape, has launched a study to better understand how these two types of deer interact. The project will study “how whitetail and mule deer use habitat and how often they overlap in an area,” News-Press Now reports. Researchers will also use GPS collar data to figure out survival rates and mortality for adult deer and fawns. The study is fully funded by federal money from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration fund (via the Pittman-Robinson Act) with a matching contribution from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and from contributions from organizations like the Kansas Bowhunters Association.
“There has been concern over the last few years that the mule deer range in Kansas is shifting westward,” Levi Jaster told News-Press Now. “This project is meant to address that shift in range and determine why. There are stable populations near the Colorado border and they’re moving west. It’s a reduction in their range and we’re hoping this research will give insight on why that is. If we can find a reason, we might be able to change things and better maintain mule deer populations as far east as possible.”
In fact, because the mule deer population within the western portion of Kansas is dwindling, the state will not offer antlerless mule permits – a change from last year.
This is the first time the state has collected this type of data. Kansas State University students and staff will assist with the study. While study sites are still being determined, public meetings will be held prior to the start of the study in any chosen location.
“Using GPS technology, we can see what habitat is being used and where deer are overlapping,” says Jaster. “It will use a satellite and the data will be uploaded and sent as a file through email. We do not have to actively be in the field to figure out where the deer are which is a benefit because our presence could change their normal behavior.”