Archive for category Mule Deer Facts

California lions Threatened?

Posted by on Tuesday, 17 May, 2011

Below is an article published by Ms. McDonald regarding California mountain lions. I will refute the declarations of Ms. McDonald, then you may read on and decide for yourself:

The first thing people should know about mountain lions is: they are predators and are lethal killers and one should never assume safety when in lion country. The risk of a human-lion encounter and hence of loss of life is growing.

Next, mountain lions are the primary reason that mule deer have declined and have not been able to recover.

Mountain lions are not an essential part of the ecological web. Man is able to regulate prey populations without the aid of mountain lions. Mountain lions, by design, are a stop-gap measure.

Persons should be aware that they are many times being observed by lions without knowing it. If you actually see a lion, then first, there are too many, and second, prepare to defend yourself by any means possible.

Mountain lion habitat is mule deer. No, I didn’t say that wrong. Cougar “habitat fragmentation” is mule deer fragmentation. The largest threat facing mountain lions is overcrowding. In the Western United States there are already more lions than the available deer will support, so lions are turning to alternatives such as eating elk, preying on people, and moving east to eat whitetails.

Hunting, depredation, and vehicles do not threaten lions and lions are not threatened. Mule deer are threatened. When the lion population is down to about 5 percent of current numbers then possibly there may be a reason to say they are “threatened”. I’m talking about 1960’s numbers. And, as anyone can see, those numbers did not place cougars in jeopardy.

Mountain lions are quite at home in many populated areas of California, where they are known to prey on peoples’ pets. Although they would likely prefer the remote “wilds” , that is if there were sufficient prey, they don’t necessarily leave just because of human encroachment.

Until very recently, the population trend for mountain lions has been on the increase. The reason lion population increase has slowed  in the West, is that further increase is prohibited by their territorial nature. So, if it is critical that we change course, and it is actually, then we need to begin drastically reducing mountain lion numbers.

According to the Director of the California Department of Fish and Game, California has more mountain lions than any Western State. And, why is that? Because, by proposition, California lions have been protected. No hunting allowed. Furthermore, if you work for animal damage control, you must catch the lion in the act and have no other alternative but to kill it. In essence, there are more lions being born in California than are being killed.

Regarding inter- and in-breeding: Since a male lion maintains a territory that overlaps only a few females, unless the male moves his territory, inbreeding is assured. So what? Male lions have been known to move hundreds of miles without regard to what they encounter on the journey. This is presumably in search of food, not in search of different females.


The Felidae Conservation Fund was founded by Zara McDonald to educate the public about wild cats, and how to conserve them. She was inspired to start the organization after two different encounters with mountain lions while running long distances on park trails in northern California. What follows is an interview with her about mountain lion behavior and protection.

What is the first thing people should know about mountain lions?
The first thing people should know about mountain lions is that they’re an essential part of the ecological web. As the keystone species, they play a key role in keeping the ecosystem balanced and healthy. When they are removed from a habitat, the health of the ecosystem declines as the biodiversity falls out of balance. The next first thing people should know about mountain lions is that humans are not on their menu, and the risk of being attacked by a mountain lion is very very low. For example, you’re 150 times more likely to be killed in a car collision with a deer.

If you see a mountain lion in the wild, what should you do? What should you not do?
You should never approach a mountain lion or make it feel threatened, or get between a mother and her cubs. At the same time, you should not run away or crouch down. Stand your ground, and allow the lion an escape route. It will most likely disappear before you can be sure that you even saw a mountain lion, making you doubt your own eyes.

What threats are they facing?
The biggest threat mountain lions face is habitat fragmentation which leads to loss of contiguous habitat and connectivity corridors that connect populations for genetic diversity. In California, they also face threats from depredation permits which sanction the action of killing a cat that has killed pets or other livestock. In the remaining states where lions live, hunting is a major threat. And in all states, the risk of being killed by a car while crossing a road is a major threat. All wild felids around the world are seriously threatened by human encroachment and loss of key habitat.

How secure is their future?
Mountain lions are a threatened species. While they are not in imminent danger of extinction, there have been many local extinctions, and the territory they inhabit has been steadily shrinking over the past 150 years. If the current trends continue, they will ultimately face extinction like so many other wild cats. It is critical that we change this course now, while there is still time.

How much space do they need?
Mountain lions have vast home ranges. The home range for a female is on average 50 square miles, and can be as much as 100 square miles. For a male the range is typically 80-100 square miles and can be as much as 200 square miles. In one research study a male puma that was being GPS monitored traveled over 1000 km over a few weeks.

How large do their populations have to be so there is not inbreeding, and related genetic diseases?
The main cause of inbreeding and loss of genetic diversity for mountain lions is habitat fragmentation. The mountain lion is a low density species. Therefore populations need to be spread out across large amounts of contiguous habitat to be healthy. Males will typically not share territory with other males, and will fight to the death in a territory dispute. Within a male’s home range there can be 2-3 females. Based on the size of their home ranges, this means that at full density there are only about 4-5 adult mountain lions per 100 square miles. This makes the mountain lion a ‘bellwether’ species, exhibiting the harmful effects of habitat fragmentation long before other species do.

Does the media portray them accurately, or in a sensationalistic way?
In some cases the media accurately portrays mountain lions and the challenges they face in a human-dominated landscape. In other cases, there is a more sensationalist approach that emphasizes fear and perceived danger. Felidae is working hard to send a balanced and accurate message out, and has had a great deal of success generating positive and informative stories in the media.

What is their main source of food?
Mountain lions are ‘generalist predators’ meaning they will eat anything from mouse to a moose. However in North America around 80 percent of a mountain lion’s diet consists of deer, and in South America there are animals similar to deer which also form the bulk of the mountain lion’s diet.

How often do they reproduce?
An adult female mountain lion is pregnant or raising young for 70 percent of her life. The gestation period after conception is about 90-92 days, and the young will stay with the mother for 18-24 months. A female will typically get pregnant within a year, and often significantly less, from the time her previous litter disperses. That puts the total reproduction cycle at around 2.5 to 3 years.

How can members of the public help make sure mountain lions survive?
The main thing that members of the public can do is to get informed and get involved, and to spread the word and help support conservation efforts. Felidae’s website, is a great place to start. It provides a lot of information about upcoming lectures, and opportunities to volunteer, make a donation, attend an event, sign up for our mailing list, and connect to our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Also check out to watch this exciting project build momentum, Learn about the Bay Area Puma Project
and join us at an upcoming lecture in San Francisco at the Randall Museum on March 10th.

Which is Which?

Posted by on Friday, 8 April, 2011

A Mule Deer and a Whitetail. Can you tell which is which?

Oregon Mule Deer Initiative

Posted by on Wednesday, 23 February, 2011

Fast facts about Oregon’s mule deer

  • The estimated 2009 Oregon mule deer population of 216,154 is below the statewide management objective of 344,900 animals.
  • Mule deer (found east of the Cascades) and black-tailed deer (west of the Cascades) are the same species but different sub-species of deer.
  • Deer have a smaller digestive track than elk or cattle, so their forage needs to be of higher nutritional quality.
  • Mule deer breed once per year, in late fall, and does generally produce two fawns.
  • In 2008, about 70,000 people went deer hunting in eastern Oregon, generating almost $22 million for the economy.
  • Ranches, farms and other private lands provide winter range and other important habitat for mule deer.
  • Wolves in Utah – Friend or Foe

    Posted by on Wednesday, 19 January, 2011

    Excerpts from the Utah DWR:


    Are there wolves in Utah?

    Although there have been confirmed wolf sightings — and some instances of wolf-related livestock depredation — there are no known established packs in Utah.

    Are wolves protected under the Endangered Species Act?

    Yes. As of Aug. 5, 2010, wolves in the western United States, including all of Utah, are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

    Can I kill a wolf that’s attacking my livestock?

    No. Wolves are now listed as an endangered species and are fully protected under the Endangered Species Act. If wolves begin harassing or harming your livestock, contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)

    Will I be reimbursed if a wolf kills my livestock?

    As long as wolves are protected under the Endangered Species Act, the state of Utah will not reimburse you for livestock killed by wolves. However, livestock owners may be eligible for compensation from a private organization. For details, see the Wolf Compensation Trust set up by Defenders of Wildlife.

    Does Utah have a long-term plan for dealing with wolves?

    In 2003, the Utah Legislature directed the DWR to prepare a wolf management plan. The DWR convened a diverse team with members from many interest groups. This effort had two main goals:

    • To encourage the USFWS to delist wolves and give management authority to the state
    • To outline how the state of Utah would manage wolves

    In 2005, after an exhaustive public process, the Utah Wildlife Board and Utah Agricultural and Wildlife Damage Prevention Board approved the Utah Wolf Management Plan.

    What will happen if a wolf enters Utah?

    In 2010, the Utah Legislature passed legislation (see S.B. 36, Wolf Management) directing the DWR to request that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service immediately remove any wolves discovered in Utah. In compliance with the new law, the DWR sends a removal request to the USFWS each time a wolf is discovered in Utah.

    What is the DWR’s position on wolves?

    The DWR’s position has always been that wolves should be removed from the protection of the Endangered Species Act and be managed by the state of Utah. DWR leadership, the governor’s office and Utah’s congressional delegation have repeatedly requested that the federal government transfer management to the state. The DWR will continue urging the USFWS to delist wolves statewide. After that occurs, the DWR can implement its plan and manage wolves responsibly whenever — and wherever — they enter Utah. However, while wolves are endangered, the DWR does not have the authority to manage them, regardless of their impact on livestock or wildlife.

    The DWR recognizes that unmanaged wolf populations may pose a serious threat to Utah’s wildlife. In nearby states — including Idaho, Montana and Wyoming — wildlife officials attribute declines in their elk herds to the unchecked growth of wolf packs. The DWR wants to prevent a similar situation from occurring in Utah. The DWR has a plan and personnel that can effectively manage wolves statewide.

    California Cat Problems

    Posted by on Friday, 16 April, 2010
    Posted: 01/07/2010

    San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies shot and killed two mountain lions on Wednesday, one in the backyard of a Yucaipa home and the other on the porch of a house in Trona.A homeowner in the 12000 block of 17th Street called for help about 11:40 a.m. after spotting a young mountain lion in the backyard. Officials said the deputy shot and killed the wild cat, who is believed to have eaten several small neighborhood pets in recent days.

    The other mountain lion was first spotted on Tuesday near Fifth and F streets in Trona after it ate a pet. Residents said they were concerned for small children who waited at bus stops in the area.

    About 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, a resident called deputies because the mountain lion had apparently killed one of her animals and was lounging on her porch.

    The cat was still there when deputies arrived, and was shot and killed “in the interest of public safety,” officials said.

    Cougar Attack Stories

    Posted by on Friday, 16 April, 2010

    Today I found an interesting site with plenty of stories about cougar attacks – mostly in California where cougars are protected by proposition.


    Coyotes Hammer Fawns

    Posted by on Monday, 3 August, 2009

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Mule Deer Facts – BLM

    Posted by on Monday, 15 December, 2008
      The following “facts” are published by the BLM
      (note: the last statement applied in 1960)

    • Over 55,000 mule deer roam BLM public lands in the Rock Springs District.
    • Mule deer inhabit every major vegetation type in western North America and every climate zone except arctic and tropics. Mule deer in high elevation ranges may migrate up to 50 miles between summer and winter range. Snow depth and forage availability is considered to be the dominant factor in population control by many.
    • Mule deer occupy a wide range of habitats. Food, cover, arid water requirements change with the seasons. Mule deer often must compete with livestock grazing practices and other human-caused disturbances. Proper land management can benefit deer.
    • Mule deer gain weight during spring, summer, and fall. Deer must be in excellent condition in the fall of each year to survive the harsh winter weather.
    • Deer eat a wide variety of foods. The major foods eaten by mule deer include sagebrush, serviceberry, snowberry, rabbitbrush, aspen, bitterbrush, juniper, willow, mountain mahogany, grasses, and forbs. In winter, more shrubs are eaten than dead forbs and grasses. Shrubs are alive and provide more protein and carbohydrates. Mule deer in North America have adapted to these long periods of nutritional stress caused by winter. Protection from human disturbance helps mule deer survive winter stress periods.
    • Males gain and lose weight more rapidly than females.
    • Both sexes essentially starve a little each day during severe winters because they can’t eat enough forage to maintain their body weight.
    • Good quality habitat may keep them from starving to death except in the very worst of winters.
    • Antler growth in males begins in the spring. As fall and the rut approaches, the males’ necks and shoulders swell, they become hyperactive and aggressive and begin to eat less food.
    • Mule deer have their young in riparian areas and aspen stands when they are available.
    • Under good conditions, most mule deer does have twins. Fawns average 7-8 pounds at birth.
    • Mule deer nearly disappeared from the plains by the late 1930s, probably due to the combination of excessive hunting, several periods of severe drought, complicated by over-grazing by domestic livestock and several extremely severe winters. Mule deer populations have rebounded in most of their range.

    Source: Bureau of Land Management Rock Springs District

    When are Mule Deer Fawns born?

    Posted by on Thursday, 31 July, 2008

    When are Mule Deer Fawns born?

    Here in Northern Arizona, we have a rainyfawn hiding in grass season referred to by locals as the Monsoon Season. This year and last, it began about the first week of July and lasted until the end of July. Just coincidentally, this is the time when most of the fawns are born. In other areas, fawn mule deer may be expected to be born about the first week of June. I have seen several does this week, that look like they are about ready to pop, but still haven’t shed that excess weight.

    When I moved to Arizona, I expected that fawns would be born much earlier – even April. This assumption was based on the, apparently, false logic that the further south you go, the earlier spring arrives. The earlier the spring, the earlier the fawning season. Now the question that might be on your mind is – wouldn’t the breeding season have to be later?

    In order for fawning to occur in late July, breeding must occur in late December – early January. Because winter doesn’t get serious until that time period, mule deer don’t have much cause to congregate. Breeding doesn’t occur until bucks and does get together. During the summer and even into late fall, mule deer in this part of the world are spread as thin as the hair on top of my head.

    That’s my twist on when fawns are born and why. Pay attention and see what you observe.

    Venison vs. Beef

    Posted by on Thursday, 19 June, 2008

    If God didn’t want us to eat MULE DEER, He wouldn’t have made them out of meat


    “You’ll often read that venison contains a lower level of cholesterol than beef, but this just isn’t true. This article, excerpted from my book, “Making the Most of Your Deer” (2000), contains USDA data, cut-for-cut.”

    Nutritional Value of Venison

    Venison, when properly prepared, is a culinary delight that holds its own in the company of fine wines and other condiments. The meat has a fine-grained, interesting texture, yet is tender without being mushy as are some of the more expensive cuts of domestic meats. But the good news doesn’t end here. Not only is venison delicious, it also is better for your nutritional well-being than are most commercially available meats. In this day and age when so many tasty items have been found to be either worthless or even potentially harmful to your health, rest assured that venison compares favorably with the supermarket alternatives. Venison is low in fat and calories and is high in minerals and vitamins. It also is free from chemical additives, synthetic growth hormones and other nasty substances.

    Some of venison’s nutritional superiority exists solely by the default of our modern meat raising systems. Still, the basic fact remains that whitetail deer are highly efficient processors of the natural foods they eat. The buds, herbs, acorns, wild fruits, and other browse in a deer’s diet are effectively converted into muscle, and the benefits of this natural food fare are passed along to those of us who enjoy venison. It’s truly an “organically grown” product!

    …….it’s obvious that venison ranks very high by modern dietary standards. For one thing, venison fat content, and consequently the caloric count, is relatively low. Even when all excess fat has been trimmed from a beefsteak or pork cut, there still remains a high level of fatty tissue entwined within the muscle fibers (we call it “well-marbled”) of domestic red meat. When a portion of venison is trimmed of fat, the remaining meat is 97.8 percent fat-free. Now that’s what you can properly call lean meat! Venison also contains comparably high levels of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and iron. These minerals are essential to our well-being, and it’s great that we can partake of them while enjoying a gourmet venison meal. And let’s not forget the vitamins; venison scores high in thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, plus Vitamins B6, B12, and E. In fact, it has been calculated that a one-pound venison steak contains more than the full recommended daily adult allowances for thiamine and niacin and a major share of the recommended riboflavin allowance. These are natural vitamins, products of nature rather than of industry, and they come to you indirectly in venison from the foods of the forest.

    Cholesterol in Venison? – the Real Story, Right Here

    Everyone knows that the cholesterol level in venison is lower than in beef and pork…right? Wrong! I wish that I could claim that cholesterol in venison was low, right along with the established benefits of higher vitamins and minerals and lower fat content, but that just wouldn’t be true. It turns out that, yes, although certain parts of a deer (such as the round steak) are slightly lower in cholesterol than some other parts of beef and pork, the total edible venison from a deer contains a slightly higher average cholesterol than do beef or pork. To get an accurate comparison, you need to look at the same cuts of meat from a beef cow or pig as you do for a deer, because they’re all different! Don’t just take my word for it, go to the USDA National Nutrient Database at:

    and see for yourself. This remarkable Website lists the nutritional values for virtually all of the more common meat cuts from most domestic animals and some game animals, and further provides good nutritional data for cooked versus uncooked meats, and fat-trimmed versus cooked as-is. The cholesterol content of any animal is tied more directly to the lean meat than to the fat content of the animal. You might be surprised to learn that fat contains very little cholesterol! So it’s a see-saw…calories from fat, or cholesterol from the lean meat. Pick your poison…but please add the right spices first!

    _____________________________________________________ Gourmet Food on a Survivor’s Budget

    Good food is somewhat expensive, sure, but the cost of true gourmet food is out of sight. Just to have the experience of grilling a prime beefsteak in the backyard, the average person might have to scrimp on other groceries. We would like to be able to experiment with different sauces and exotic recipes, but with meat prices so high we restrict our culinary adventures to within the affordable and commonplace. Instead we often limit our skills to the preparation of tossed salads and hamburger dressings. Why take a chance with big money, right?

    Well, with a supply of venison stocked away in the freezer, we can experiment to our heart’s content. Make no mistake about it, venison qualifies as a gourmet delicacy in every sense of the word. Venison has a distinctive flavor, responds well to special cooking techniques, is uniquely different from domestic meats, and last but not least, is difficult to obtain. Venison has the status of exclusiveness because wild venison cannot be legally sold or purchased. (The venison that sometimes appears on some restaurant menus originates from licensed deer farms. These pastured deer are fed commercial foods and consequently, the taste of their venison is somewhat different.)

    Restaurants charge exorbitant prices for such exotics as truffles, caviar, morels, lobster, escargots, and other choice items that are obtained chiefly not from domestic sources but from the natural world.

    But then, so would venison be expensive; that is, if you could buy it. If you had to pick up the tab for someone else’s hunting trip every time you had a venison meal, you would soon come to understand the real meaning of the words “exclusive” and “expensive.” The fact that we hunt for pleasure, rather than for food or profit, does not alter the fact that venison has all the qualifications of a gourmet food. A lot has been written about how venison can be made to taste just like beef so that those people who profess not to like wild game would not be able to tell the difference. That certainly is true; with a little cover-up here and there, venison can be made to pass for beef. But why would you want to do a thing like that? Why try to alter a gourmet food into something ordinary?

    Venison should be appreciated for its own merits, much the same way that you relish a lobster for its sweet, succulent flavor. Sure, you could prepare a lobster in ways that would disguise the piquant odor of the ocean, and pass it off as farm-raised. Similarly, venison should not automatically be dummied up with strongly flavored sauces solely to change the taste of it into something that could be mistaken for a domestic meat. Take the approach of the gourmet and limit the use of sauces to only those which will enhance the natural taste and flavor of venison. A fine wine, good music in the background, candles (optional), the children either young and in bed, or grown and off someplace (also optional), and a fine meal of venison with the proper accompaniments–what else could you possibly ask in the way of a gourmet meal of fine cuisine?

    The Tragedy of Modern Domestic Meats

    Sometimes you can get as many chuckles from reading the advertising hype on a package of processed supermarket meat as you can from the comic section of the weekend newspapers. Seems that meat is inevitably packaged under brand names that are designed to evoke images of sunshine, shade trees, sparkling brooks and so on, scenes where children soar kites under perpetually blue skies and Mom is in the kitchen forever baking apple pies. This advertising often contains a picture, typically one that shows a smiling, straw-hatted farmer feeding only two or three head of livestock. Even the livestock are smiling (although somewhat ironically). You get the mental picture, standing there in the supermarket, that the contents of the package you are holding were grown back in the Good Old Days and then were mysteriously transported into the Here and Now, just for you. You even feel strangely reassured that those little piggies (or whatever) in the picture received many affectionate pats on the rump during their rich and full lives down on the farm.