Southern BC Mule Deer Project

Southern BC Mule Deer Project

The BCWF is about to launch some world class mule deer research in collaberation with the Okanagan Nation Alliance, The University of BC Okanagan and The University of Idaho and the British Columbia Fish and Wildlife Branch.
The goal of our study is:
To learn how to restore mule deer populations in BC by studying how landscape change and the predator prey community are affecting our current populations.
The BCWF has already confirmed $115,000 of this project's funding to come from government sources, but as always we will be heavily relying on volunteer support and nongovernment funding to make this project a reality.

The goal of the project is to answer the key question of how landscape change affects mule deer and the predator‐prey community. Jesse Zeman, Director of Wildlife Restoration for the BC Wildlife Federation in collaberation with Sophie Gilbert of the University of Idaho and Adam Ford of The University of British Columbia, Okanagan, created the following presentation to provide you with the history and background behind the population decline of the Mule deer in the Southern Interior of British Columbia.
The proposed areas include the Kettle (8‐14, 8‐15), Peachland/Garnet Valley (8‐08, 8‐11), and the Elephant Hill Fire (3‐29, 3‐30).

There are four parts to this study including:
  1. Collaring
  2. Cameras
  3. Vegetation Sampling
Collaring Mule Deers as Part of Research for Mule Deer Populations in BC
1. Collaring:
We will collar 20‐30 mule deer does in each study area (half in burned, half in unburned areas) and, pending HCTF funding, 20 fawns in each area next year. This will give us an idea of migration routes, habitat selection, effect of roads, effectiveness of ungulate winter range protection orders, survival, causes of mortality and effectiveness of highway wildlife crossing structure usage in Peachland study area. 
2. Cameras:
Mule deer survival is currently being monitored in the East Kootenay, and this data will be used in the analysis. Trail cameras installed in these areas will tell us about other animals (predators, prey and people) that are interacting (competing) with mule deer. The cameras will also measure recruitment (fawn survival) and sex ratios (buck:doe).
3. Vegetation Sampling:
After we know where our collared animals are moving and we set up a series of fences, we will be able to see what mule deer are eating, what their competitors are eating, which forage species they prefer, and which plants might be suppressed.

  • We recently purchased the GPS collars and plan on collaring mule deer does in late winter. It costs approximately $2,000 to capture, collar and monitor (data fees) a deer for one year.
  • Both UBC‐O and U of Idaho are contributing significant in‐kind support and donating trail cameras for the project (~$80,000), and a PhD student (~$140,000) to get it off‐the‐ground. We would like to add a second PhD student as the project progresses. 
  • We would also like to purchase an ultrasound to check captured mule deer body condition, pregnancy rates and fecundity (number of fetuses). An ultrasound costs between $25,000‐ 30,000 (CDN) depending on the model.
To get the base project running (collaring does only; no ultrasound; minimal capture costs) we require a minimum of $60,000 in addition to the government contribution.
A number of clubs have already committed funds to the project including but not limited to:
Southern Mule Deer Project Partners and Clubs
We also rely on the dedicated volunteers of the BCWF, Okanagan Region.
The funding received will dictate what we can do to enhance the project.

If you would like to contribute or if you have any questions...

Please contact:
Jesse Zeman 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Or call (250) 878‐3799 

Thank you for your support. 
Donations can be made out to:
BC Wildlife Federation 
Please make a note that your donation is for
The Southern Interior Mule Deer Project 
Send to BCWF Head Office at:
101‐9706 188 St,
Surrey BC, V4N 3M2
You can also easily donate to The Southern Interior Mule Deer Project online.
Just click the donate button below and select "Southern Interior Mule Deer Project" in the designation drop down on the donation page.