Mule Deer Doe Shot and Left to Waste on Idaho Field, Officials Investigating

by Craig Garrett
Mule Deer,Close-up portrait of mule white standing on field - stock photo

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is requesting help from the public to find whoever killed a mule deer doe and left her body to rot. A doe was found in a private field near Inkom off East Green Canyon Road, Idaho News 2 reports. The incident most likely occurred at night on October 10th or early morning on October 11th.

The infractions for this case include hunting a female mule deer during the off-season and needlessly wasting its carcass. Antlerless hunts were not open in the Southeast Region at the time of this incident. The only exception is a few specially managed hunts that allow harvesting either male or female deer.

If you have any information about this incident or know of other wildlife crimes, please contact Senior Conservation Officer Tyler Peterson at 208-251-4515. You can also call the Citizens Against Poaching hotline at 1-800-632-5999.

The mule deer is distinguishable by its large ears resembling those of a mule. It’s native to western North America. It generally falls under the black-tailed deer category, with there being two subspecies.

The differences between mule deer and white-tailed deer

The white-tailed deer and mule deer have several physical differences, the most notable being ear size, tail color, body size, and antler shape. Usually, a mule deer’s tail has a black tip whereas a white-tail’s does not. Additionally, their antlers naturally fork as they grow instead of branching off from one central beam as white-tails do.

Every year in early spring, a male deer’s antlers will start to grow back almost immediately after the old ones have fallen off. The process of shedding typically happens around mid-February, with some variation depending on location. Even though they are able to run quickly, mule deer are more often seen stotting (which is also called pronking), which is when all four feet come down at the same time.

Mule deer across its range generally have similar size, though weight can differ significantly in a population depending on environmental conditions. An exception to this is the Sitka subspecies which is much smaller than other mule deer – averaging 120 lb for males and 79 lb for females.

Concerns for the deer going forward

The top three predators of mule deer, in addition to humans, are coyotes, wolves, and cougars. Bobcats, Canada lynx, wolverines American black bears, and grizzly bears may also feast on adult deer occasionally. However they typically only attack fawns or old/weakened specimens. Bears and other smaller carnivores usually eat prey opportunistically so they’re not much of a threat to strong and healthy mule deer most of the time.

As more and more people move into urban areas, mule deer migrations are being disrupted. This also disrupts gene flow among different populations. One solution would be to not build homes in crucial habitats for the animals. However, this is often not feasible or desirable. Another option is to provide resources such as food and water near areas where the deer live. This way they will not need to migrate through urban areas.