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Range/habitat: Mule deer are found in western North America. Unlike White-tailed Deer, they avoid areas with heavy human use. In the winter, large, loosely formed herds gather in the foothills on brushy slopes to feed on browse (twigs and buds of woody plants). In the spring, they retreat up the slopes to higher elevations.
Behavior: Mule deer are well adapted to airid and rocky environments. They are browsers (as opposed to grazers like Elk) and eat lots of shrubs and early growth plants. They do best in areas with a diversity of plant species and in early growth forests. Young plants have more nutrients than do mature hardwoods.
Breeding: Like Elk, Mule Deer rut in autumn. This is the process in which they compete for mates by locking antlers and fighting until exhaustion. Bucks aren’t allowed to participate in the Rut until they are 3-4 years old. Males only associate with females for a short period of time during mating. The gestation period for females is around 200 days and fawns are weaned about 60 days after birth.
Conservation: Listing- Least concern. Mule deer populations have decreased from 100,000 in the 1980’s to only around 32,000 currently. Massive herds in western Colorado have decreased dramatically in size due to habitat loss and illegal hunting.