March 26, 2015

MULE DEER RELOCATED IN WEST TEXAS TO HELP BOOST POPULATION

fieldIn early February, research staff and students from the Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) were on hand to help with the relocation of 40 mule deer does from Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA) to the Black Gap WMA and the surrounding area. This relocation is part of an effort to boost a struggling mule deer population in and around the Black Gap WMA which has struggled to rebound from the drought of the late 1990s. BRI researchers will be monitoring the trans-located mule deer through the use of GPS and VHF collars to assess their movements, survival and habitat selection post-release.

The Borderlands Research Institute is partnering with the TPWD, along with the ECLCC — CEMEX-USA and Cuenca Los Ojos, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services, the Mule Deer Foundation, and the Houston Safari Club to help mule deer populations grow at Black Gap WMA/ECLCC. “This relocation is the first in a multi-year project aimed at restoring mule deer at Black Gap WMA and the El Carmen Land and Conservation Co. property,” says Mitch Lockwood, director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s big game program. “Despite the excellent mule deer habitat at the El Carmen Land and Conservation Co. property and Black Gap WMA, mule deer numbers have remained very low over the past 35 years. These partners aim to help boost populations while researching why the region has seen limited growth in the population.”

The ECLCC property joins TPWD’s Black Gap WMA to comprise 135,000 contiguous acres dedicated to wildlife and habitat conservation. This diverse site of Chihuahuan desert scrub and desert grasslands climbs from the Rio Grande River to the Sierra del Carmen Mountain Range.

After surveying the herd numbers of locations near Black Gap WMA, Elephant Mountain WMA was chosen to be where the first deer would be captured because of a surplus of mule deer available at that site. Plans are in place for the restoration effort to continue in 2016 with the translocation of an additional 100 mule deer to the Black Gap WMA/ECLCC area, and the deer will continue to be monitored through 2017.

For information about BRI’s Mule deer research visit: http://bri.sulross.edu/bg_muledeer.html.