Scientists are studying why mule deer populations are declining across their range.
With mule deer populations dropping by 50 to 70 percent, biologists in the Piceance Basin of Colorado are undertaking an aerial assault to track deer movement.
How does one aerially assault a deer? Check out the video to find out.
As the video discussed, the biggest problem facing mule deer is simply a loss of habitat. Fire suppression, human encroachment, and development over time has allowed optimum mule deer habitat (open range land) to change to pinyon-juniper woodland, which is not ideal for mule deer populations.
Biologists now physically manipulate the habitat to create small open meadows with lots of young woody species used for browse by mule deer populations. These meadows mimic openings created by wild fires.
In order to assess how well the habitat improvement projects work, biologists net mule deer from helicopters to collar them, take their vital statistics, and track their movements.
A specialized team flies in to net the deer without hurting them, and then they are sedated and carried back to a base camp where the collars are installed. The GPS collars are programmed to fall off of the deer within 16 months, during which time biologists can collect critical data to help inform management of mule deer populations.