Deer Numbers Stable, Rising in Some Areas

Deer populations are stable and rising according to post-season surveys of one state not always high on any lists for whitetail deer hunters.

Stable and rising? How’s that possible?

Montana officials are seeing mule deer and whitetail deer numbers at stable or rising rates, according to post-season surveys.

Montana officials are seeing mule deer and whitetail deer numbers at stable or rising rates, according to post-season surveys. (Photo: Montana FWP)

According to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks hunter surveys, mule deer numbers are increasing in Region 6, the northeastern portion of the state. Whitetail numbers are mostly stable statewide.

“Mule deer trends continue to show a steady recovery across the region in the last few years,” said FWP biologist Ryan Williamson, of Outlook. The info was included in this report in the Billings Gazette.

Surveys conducted in January showed mule deer numbers at 49 percent above average and 17 percent higher than 2015. The spring survey showed them to be 29 percent above average. The eastern portion of the state is average or above average; the western portion fluctuates.

Whitetail numbers are looked at on a per square mile basis. Following unsustainably high numbers in 2009 and earlier, the population is now at 39 percent below the long-term average. That’s a sizable increase; in 2015 it was at 47 percent.

“White-tailed deer densities continue to recover in the eastern part of the region, but are still 25 percent below average, while the western portion of the region is 58 percent below the average,” Williamson told the Gazette. “This was an unsustainable level that was causing problems for landowners and also degrading habitat conditions. EHD outbreaks and other factors in the following years reduced the whitetail population across Region 6 considerably.”

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