The current models used by Nevada biologists for estimating the population size of deer, make certain assumptions that do not explicitly take into account possible differences in survival between sexes outside of the hunting season. The data collected by this study will be used to estimate survival parameters among various sex and age classes (e.g., males vs. females and juveniles vs. adults) of migratory mule deer. The survival parameters used in population estimates are usually based on historic studies of mule deer or from other study systems. The results will provide a more realistic and current estimates of survival, as well as to determine which specific factors (such as habitat quality, body condition, or landscape changes) affect these survival estimates. Thus, the data will provide better and more precise population estimates and to provide land management agencies with predictive models of deer travel corridors.
This study is also designed to provide a quantitative analysis of migration costs for mule deer in Nevada and to determine which variables may affect migratory behavior and examine factors that may be used to focus conservation efforts. The results of this analysis will provide more specific information on migration corridors for mule deer, which face increasing threats due to human activities such as road building, energy development, mining, and urban expansion. The resulting habitat selection maps will also help to prioritize crucial migration corridors for land management planning and help to clarify some factors that may contribute to declines in mule deer populations across western North America.