Mule Deer

Res #: 14-22A
Number: 14
Year: 2022
Midterm: No
Expired: No
Responses Received: Yes
Departments: Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment

WHEREAS the population of mule deer has increased significantly in Saskatchewan;
WHEREAS the increased numbers have caused damage to crop, gardens, haybales, etc., as well as causing numerous traffic accidents;
WHEREAS the Manitoba Government did a complete cull of Whitetail and Mule deer between the Saskatchewan/Manitoba border to the Lake of the Prairies;
WHEREAS mule deer have no boundaries; and
WHEREAS presently mule deer licenses are granted only by hunting draw applications.
BE IT RESOLVED SARM lobby the provincial government to have an open season for mule deer in all of Saskatchewan.

Responses From: Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment

June 14, 2022

Mule deer are a native species throughout the province and are managed with the goal of maintaining sustainable populations on the landscape.

Mule deer quotas are set in each wildlife management zone (WMZ) to ensure population sustainability over the long term, while considering First Nations and Metis harvesting rights, landowner tolerance, hunter interests and intrinsic values in wildlife. The Ministry of Environment sets mule deer hunting quotas, seasons and regulations using the best available population information. The ministry takes multiple lines of evidence into account when setting quotas such as aerial surveys, ground -based composition surveys and field reports.

A province-wide change to over-the-counter mule deer licence would put long-term sustainability of mule deer populations at significant risk. Mule deer are susceptible to overharvest, as they are more associated with open habitats, less weary of hunters and more likely to be found in larger groups. Currently, Saskatchewan already has one of the highest mule deer harvest rates relative to population size in North America. In Saskatchewan , more than 50 per cent of the mule deer harvested were antlerless in 2021compared to less than 25 per cent in Montana.

Survey data suggests mule deer populations have modestly increased in recent years in some Parkland and Eastern Grassland WMZs. In response, the ministry has increased either-sex and antlerless mule deer quotas to stabilize that population growth. The ministry will continue to evaluate sources of population data, as well as hunter interest in the Big Game Draw, against harvest management objectives throughout the province. Where hunter demand is less than the targeted harvest quota in a WMZ, the ministry issues quota-limited antlerless mule deer licences that can be purchased over the counter. This approach has been used successfully in WMZs with lower hunter interest over the past several years, including WMZs 3, 7E, 7W, 8, 11, 12 and 14W.

The ministry will continue to monitor hunter interest throughout the province to ensure mule deer harvest opportunity is maximized within sustainable limits, and the Big Game Draw is functioning as intended.

The Ministry of Environment is in the process of developing a ten-year mule deer management plan to ensure sustainable populations in Saskatchewan. As part of the plan development, the ministry will be engaging the Wildlife Advisory Committee, which SARM is a member of, for their input in the development of the plan.

Hon. Dana Skoropad – Minister of Environment