Due to the file size and restrictions, we are unable to upload the pictures and charts with this file. If you are interested in a full copy of the report please e-mail Chelsea at Chelsea@bountyrealestate.com.

 

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thank you to the members of the Western Montana Chapter of the Mule Deer Foundation for their support in helping to fund mule deer surveys in the Dry Creek Survey Unit from 2010 through 2012. We really appreciate their commitment and dedication in encouraging and supporting scientific research related to mule deer management.

Alvin Meeks, observer during a.m. survey on 4/20/11

Jeannie Rugg, observer during p.m. survey on 4/20/11

Special thanks to Alvin Meeks and Jeannie Rugg for participating in the surveys. Having additional observers on board really helped improve our survey results. Also, thanks to Ray and Jeannie Rugg for allowing us to use their land as a staging area. And of course, thanks to our pilot Tim Phaller for getting us all home safely.

 

 

 


Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) manage mule deer populations in Hunting District (HD) 202 and throughout the rest of the State for the long-term welfare of Montana’s deer resource, and to provide recreational opportunities that reflect the dynamic nature of deer populations (MFWP, 2001).

HD 202 is located in the Lower Clark Fork and encompasses 724 square miles (463,041 acres) of rugged, mountainous terrain. Ninety-four percent of the hunting district is in US Forest Service (USFS), Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and Plum Creek Timber Company ownership/management. Although the majority of the district is heavily forested, it has an extensive network of logging roads resulting in 82% of the

land area of the district within one mile of a road (MFWP, 2001)hunter access is good within the district.

HD 202 is one of 16 statewide Mule Deer Special Management Districts. Since 1996, there have been no legal antlerless mule deer harvests, and since 1998, the area wildlife biologist has implemented restrictive harvest regulations during the 6-week special archery season and the 5-week general rifle season, with limited entry, buck-only permits and no antlerless B-tags (see Table 1). Hunting opportunity and buck harvest is limited in order to

a)  reduce the harvest of antlered bucks;

b)  to increase post season buck:doe ratios, and

c)   to meet demand for a limited number of people to harvest an older aged buck in an area with good access (MFWP, 2001).

Table 1: HD 202 hunting success with limited-entry mule deer permits (1998-2010)

Year

No. of buck
permits issued

No. of bucks
harvested

Percent
success

1998

150

23

15

1999

150

23

15

2000

150

41

27

2001

200

83

42

2002

200

29

15

2003

200

75

38

2004

200

77

39

2005

200

68

34

2006

200

50

25

2007

200

56

28

2008

200

41

21

2009

150

38

25

2010

150

55

37

 

Data obtained from annual hunter harvest surveys.


Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

 

 

From 1998 through 2005, excluding 2001, MFWP’s wildlife biologist conducted winter classification surveys to obtain buck:doe ratios, as well as spring population trend surveys, which continued through 2006. Biologists conducted these counts in the Dry Creek Survey Unit covering Cold Creek southeast to Cedar Creek.

Thanks to the financial support of the Western Montana Chapter of the Mule Deer Foundation, MFWP personnel were able to re-implement spring population trend count surveys within the Dry Creek Survey Unit starting in 2010 and continuing through 2012. Below are the results from the 2011 survey.

SURVEY METHODS

To ensure consistency of data collection with the 1997 2006 surveys, MFWP personnel followed the MFWP Mule Deer Monitoring Guidelines. These guidelines include:

> Conducting aerial surveys in a helicopter.

> Flying in the early morning or evening to avoid mid-day bedding periods when deer use dense timber for cover.

> Trying to schedule flights during optimal weather conditions, with overcast skies producing flat, bright light and calm air.

> Recording survey conditions such as cloud cover, temperature, wind, snow depth/cover, flight time, and deer behavior. GPS all deer groups and map. For each group, record total number, number of adults, and number of fawns. Number of mule deer observed and fawns:100 does will be computed. Also, surveyors will document observations of other species, including other ungulates, coyotes, bears, mountain lions, and wolves.

2011 SURVEY DETAILS, RESULTS AND ANALYSIS

Dates survey conducted: April 20 and 21, 2011

Pilot: Tim Phayler

Observers: Vickie Edwards, Alvin Meeks (a.m.), Jeannie Rugg (p.m.)

Helicopter: MFWP JetRanger

Total flight time: 8.1 hours

Cost for flight time: $3,200 ($395/hr)

Weather:           April 20, 2011: The survey conditions were very good for the morning

flight. The winds were calm, the skies were clear and it was -'25°F. The survey conditions for the evening survey were good with overcast

skies, winds -' 5mph and the temperature -'45°F.

April 21, 2011 (a.m.): It was partly cloudy, -'38°F, with 3mph winds. There was a fresh skiff of snow on the ground, and it began snowing towards the end of the survey. The fog settles in at the end of the flight, and we had to


Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

obtain special clearance from personnel at the Missoula Airport control tower to land.

Comments: Many deer bedded down early or never got up on the morning of April 21st. Because of weather and mule deer behavior, the quality rating for this survey was fair.

Flight Summary

Total number of mule deer counted: 360 (see Figure 1 for locations and Figure 2 for comparison with previous years)

Fawns:100 adults = 53 (see Figure 2 for comparison with previous surveys) Total white-tailed deer counted: 261

Total number of turkeys counted: 9

Total number of black bears counted: 1

Total number of elk counted: 199 (calves:100 cows = 16, bulls:100 cows = 11)

Figure 1: Locations of all mule deer counted in Dry Creek Survey Unit on 4/20 4/21/11


Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

 

 

Figure 2: Total number of mule deer observed and fawn:adult ratios (1998 2011).

Figure 2 reflects the population trend of mule deer in the Dry Creek Survey Unit from 10 surveys conducted over the last 14-years. There is an increasing trend in the total number of deer counted from 2005 to 2011, with 2005 being the lowest year and 2011 being one of the highest. The total number of deer counted in 2011 was higher than those counted in 1998, 1999, 2005, 2006 and 2010, and above the average of 318.

The 2011 data is near the highest recorded count (368) for this survey unit, and the highest documented fawn:100 adult ratio to date. The fawn:adult ratio increased from 38:100 adults in 2010 to 53:100 adults in 2011.

The 2010 - 2011 data may be an indication of an increasing mule deer population within the survey unit since we are seeing an overall increase in mule deer numbers, as well as increased survivability of overwintering fawns. An overall increase in mule deer numbers combined with an increase in the number of fawns coincides with changes to black bear and lion regulations; however, the cause and effect of the mule deer increases are speculative at this point. In 2010, MFWP wildlife personnel established Bear Management Unit 200, extended the spring black bear season from May 15th to May 31st, and increased lion permits in the Lower Clark Fork drainage to alleviate predator mortality on ungulate species.


Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

 

 

The level of fawn overwintering survivability and potential recruitment into the population (53 fawns:100 adults) is very encouraging. For Northwest Montana habitat types, long­term average and recruitment greater than 30 fawns:100 adults is one indicator of a healthy, huntable (in terms of antlerless harvest, but HD 202 is managed for trophy bucks and there is no antlerless harvest) population (MFWP, 2001). The data we collect next year will give us a better idea if the 2010 and 2011 levels truly are reflective of the current trends in the population.

LITERATURE CITED

MFWP. 2001. Adaptive Harvest Management: Mule Deer Population Objectives, Hunting Regulation Strategies, Special Management Districts, Monitoring Program, Population Modeling, Deer Management Policies. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Helena, Montana. Pp.67.

 



Modify Website

© 2000 - 2014 powered by
Doteasy Web Hosting