MISSOULA, Mont. – The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has helped conserve more than 2 million acres in and around the 50 counties that reign as Americas best areas for trophy mule deer.
Average production of record-class muleys across these counties has trended upward since RMEF launched in 1984 and the counties showing the greatest improvements are those where RMEF has helped protect and steward the greatest amounts of habitat.
”The data show a striking correlation,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Of the Top 50 mule deer counties in Boone and Crockett records, 36 are seeing an upward or even trend in trophy buck production. In each of these counties, we’ve conserved an average of about 48,000 acres. In the 14 remaining counties that aren’t faring as well, our average project acreage is currently less than half that amount.
See each county’s trophy mule deer numbers and RMEF project totals at the URL below:
”We’re proud that our efforts, along with those of our state and federal agency partners as well as private landowners, are contributing to increasing quality in some of the West’s most prominent mule deer herds”, added Allen.
Trophy trends were identified using Boone and Crockett records for typical and non-typical mule deer. The combined Top 50 counties were included in the research. Upward, even and downward trends were based on the number of record-book entries before and after 1984, when RMEF began its work to ensure the future of elk and other wildlife.
Allen acknowledged that many factors influence mule deer herd health, recruitment of males into older age classes, sustainable harvest objectives and other elements of sound wildlife management and fair-chase hunting.
“But habitat quality is a major consideration,” he said. “Our mission statement directs us to ensure a future for elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. After elk, mule deer are perhaps the species most affected by our work, and its gratifying to see quality mule deer herds alongside healthy elk herds.”
RMEF so far has invested more than $10 million on conservation projects in and around the Top 50 trophy mule deer counties. Funding from RMEF helped leverage additional support from partnering agencies and organizations, resulting in an overall conservation effort valued at more than $236 million.
Projects include prescribe burns, treating noxious weeds, thinning overgrown forests, restoring riparian zones, constructing wildlife drinkers, conducting research, brokering land deals that protect open space and improve public access, and more.
Allen said RMEF is concerned about declining numbers of mule deer in some areas.
For more information about RMEF, visit www.rmef.org.
For more information about trophy records for native North American big game, visit Boone and Crockett Club at www.boone-crockett.org.