Surveyors counted fewer mule deer in the Pine Ridge management unit this year than last, but officials with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission say there might be an explanation for the drop.
Game and Parks has announced completion of the second year of the annual mule deer survey in extreme northwestern Nebraska.
Game and Parks employees used a contracted helicopter to count mule deer in the 429 square miles of the Pine Ridge unit. The count totaled 758 this year compared to 862 a year ago. The lower count, according to Game and Parks, could be attributable to less snow cover during the survey period, February 6th through the 9th. Big Game Manager Todd Nordeen says the data will be more telling when the survey completes its scheduled five-year cycle.
The data will be compared to mule deer numbers in other areas of the state to assess long-term trends, according to Game and Parks.
Wildlife managers have become concerned by a drop in the number of mule deer even though habitat seems adequate and hunting has been restricted. Hunters have not been allowed to kill mule deer doe since 2013.
Game and Parks says it will compared the mule deer numbers with those in other parts of Nebraska to assess long-term trends.