Four years ago mule deer numbers in some areas of Montana had declined by as much a 55 percent, prompting the elimination of all mule deer doe B tags across the state in 2014.

Fast forward to 2016 and things are looking much better for mulies in the southeastern region of the Big Sky state.

“The populations are currently at 147 percent of the long-term average,” said John Vore, Game Management Bureau chief, said in a Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting in Dillon on Thursday.

The increase, determined based on a number of surveys of Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks’ Region 7, has prompted the recommendation of increasing the doe harvest this season.

“Deer numbers are now higher than they were during years when nearly 11,000 B licenses were sold,” read the commission’s agenda item on the matter. “Now is the time to apply additional antlerless harvest to avoid the unsustainable high numbers and wide population fluctuations of the past.”

Overall, the department has proposed increasing available doe licenses from 4,500 to 7,500 this season in addition to allowing the region to increase total harvest to 11,000 without the commission’s approval if the mule deer numbers remain high.

The proposal is out for public comment until June 24 and is set to be under consideration by the commission at its next meeting in July.


H/T: The Missoulian