Hello! Mule deer, Ambrose Park. May 5, 2015.

Male Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) near the Truckee River in Ambrose Park, Reno. May 5, 2015. Photo: K. Fitzgerald.

Mule deer
Odocoileus hemionus
  • Large mule-like ears.
  • Brown fur on body.
  • Tail may be white with a black tip, all black, or all brown.
  • Males have antlers.
  • Young mule deer have spots.
Record Observations
Species Description

Named for their large mule-like ears, mule deer are the only species of deer that live in the Truckee River region.  They have brown bodies, and white tails tipped with black.  Along the Truckee River between Truckee and Verdi, you may see members of the Verdi sub-unit of the Loyalton-Truckee mule deer herd.  These deer migrate each year from their winter range in Nevada up the Truckee River/I-80 corridor to Martis Valley and on to fawning grounds near Union Valley (DC&E, 2006).  Their movements are being studied by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Nevada Department of Wildlife, and some of the deer have been outfitted with satellite radio collars (CA Department of Fish & Wildlife, 2015).  As of 2014, there were approximately 1,700 deer in the Truckee-Loyalton herd (Delong, 2014).

Mule deer feed at night on a variety of plants, grasses, farm crops, and even mushrooms.   Populations of mule deer across the state of Nevada reached an all-time high during the 1980’s, and have since been in decline (Wasley, 2004).  They use riparian areas for reliable sources of water, food, and cover for young fawns, which spend the first few months of their lives hiding in dense vegetation (Leckenby, et al., 1982).

References & Links

California Department of Fish and Wildlife. (2015). Loyalton-Truckee Deer Herd Study. Available online: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regions/2/Loyalton-Truckee-Deer.  Accessed May 20, 2015.

DC&E. (2006). Town of Truckee 2025 General Plan EIR: Biological Resources. Truckee, CA: Design, Community & Environment (DC&E). Available online: http://www.townoftruckee.com/home/showdocument?id=1280 Accessed May 20, 2015.

Delong, Jeff. (2014, June 26). Drought stresses Nevada Wildlife. Reno Gazette Journal, Reno, NV  Available online: http://www.rgj.com/story/tech/environment/2014/06/24/drought-stresses-nevada-wildlife/11183481/. Accessed May 20, 2015.

Leckenby, D. A., Sheehy, D. P., Nellis, C. H., Scherzinger, R. J., Luman, I. D., Elmore, W., et al. (1982).Widlife Habitats in Managed Rangelands of the Great Basin of Southeastern Oregon. USDA, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. U.S. Forest Service. Available online: http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/gtr/gtr_pnw080.pdf?. Accessed May 20, 2015.

Wasley, T. (2004). Mule Deer Population Dynamics: Issues and Influences. Reno, NV: Nevada Department of Wildlife. Available online: http://www.ndow.org/uploadedFiles/ndoworg/Content/public_documents/Wildlife_Education/Publications/muledeer.pdf. Accessed May 20, 2015.


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