An evaluation of historical mule deer fawn recruitment in North Dakota

Publication cover

Authors and Contributors

Simone Ciuti, William F. Jensen, Scott E. Nielsen, Mark S. Boyce


Research papers

Research Category

Energy Development
Population Study

Target Species

Mule deer

Approximate Completion Date




mule deer energy


Since 1962 mule deer surveys have been conducted in North Dakota. Over the last 50 years the general pattern has been that mule deer numbers have increased while fall fawn recruitment rates have declined. However, in recent years both mule deer numbers and fall fawn recruitment rates have decreased to levels well below the long-term average, raising concern about recruitment and population trends. Fawn production during the period 2008-2012 was the lowest documented since demographic surveys began in 1962. These recent declines in abundance and recruitment of mule deer are coincident with substantial landscape changes attributable to energy development in mule deer habitats especially in the Little Missouri badlands.  This study looks at the factors impacting mule deer numbers and modeling future fawn recruitment.