Advisor: Dr. Clayton Nielsen
Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) populations have been declining over the past decade across the western United States, including on Navajo Nation in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. In 2010, the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife documented a 53% decline in the mule deer population. Since mule deer are socially and economically important to the Diné (people), it is important to understand what is driving the decline of the species, particularly the significant decline seen on Navajo Nation.
My study will capture, collar and monitor mule deer fawns throughout the Chuska-Carrizo mountain chain and Defiance Plateau to determine habitat selection for fawning and cause of mortality. Through this study, we can determine what factors are driving low fawn recruitment such as habitat, predation or disease, and implement the results into the first Mule Deer Management Plan for Navajo Nation.