The Mule Deer Project
A Cooperative Project Between the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Big Horn Foundation, West Valley School District, and
The NatureMapping Program
This five year project is designed to learn more about the apparent declining mule deer populations of northeast and north-central Washington.
The project will connect on-the-ground habitat conditions with fawn production. Radio telemetry will monitor deer movements and locate preferred habitats.
Students will sample identified usage areas (1-5 square miles) and submit vegetation and scat samples for analysis from plots within the sampling area. They will also conduct NatureMapping inventories throughout the area to complement the plot data.
The Education Component
The larger question is the status of the mule deer population. Students will contribute to the data collection process as well as the data analysis.
In developing a scientific question, students will be asking several questions throughout the process;
- How does collecting scat and vegetation tell you about the health of the mule deer?
- Why do scientists use the current capture and monitoring methods for the mule deer and the cougar?
- How do radio collars and GIS help scientist learn about wildlife and plant communities?
- What other wildlife occur in the area where mule deer live?
- How does the presence (or absence) of other wildlife affect the mule deer population and the biodiversity of the region?
Becoming part of real life data collection provides a positive impact on the development of long-term stewardship of biodiversity for students.