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Is the D.E.E.R. Project the Future of Conservation?

Mule Deer Foundation

Mule deer become semi-pro athletes at the D.E.E.R. Project.

Kevin Monteith, an assistant professor at the University of Wyoming, has spearheaded a new approach to deer management in the state of Wyoming.

Monteith is the catalyst for a new project called the D.E.E.R. Project, found at www.deerproject.org that turns mule deer into semi-pro athletes. Deer that are part of the project will have a profile created and statistics for public review.

“They will have their own page and profile like an athlete’s playing card,” Monteith said. “It will say how old it is, how fat it was compared to the rest of the population, when we caught it and have a map that displays the area she lives in and allows us to acknowledge the animal’s sponsor.”

The project started with two goals in mind: to raise money needed for research and help educate the public.

Researchers need to collar deer in order to study them. Once the deer has been collared they can be tracked to understand migration, seasonal habits, impacts of predation, and can be studied over time to assess body condition. The problem is, all that takes money.

That’s where deerproject.org kicks in. For $5,000, an individual person or a collective group can “adopt” a mule deer in Wyoming. The money goes toward the expense of collaring, tracking, and studying the animal. Of course the donating group doesn’t get to keep the deer, but they are recognized on the projects home page.

The second goal is reached through the website as well. Anyone can go to the website and learn about the habits and body condition of deer. Each deer’s page has information such as when it was tagged, sex, age, winter weight, fat condition, and a map to track their wanderings. By making all the information transparent the group hopes interested people won’t have to wait for a press release in order to see how things are going.

As of now there are two deer that have been sponsored by two Wyoming-based groups: the Kemmerer chapter of MFF and Wyoming Consulting LLC.

As more deer become part of the project it should unveil more aspects of their lives. One item in particular many people will want to understand is the impact of predators such as wolves on their population. Many folks out west and groups such as the Mule Deer Foundation have been adamantly arguing for a delisting of the wolf citing their negative impact on animal herds.

With the growing popularity of hunting and the increasing accessibility of the Internet, we may be seeing more projects like deerproject.org in the future.

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NEXT: NORTH DAKOTA MULE DEER POPULATION ON THE RISE

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Is the D.E.E.R. Project the Future of Conservation?