EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) are a regionally important species in the Cariboo Forest Region. During winter, deer require habitats that reduce their rate of energy loss. Deep snow increases the cost of travel dramatically for deer. Past research in the Cariboo Forest Region found that characteristics of good winter range include south facing slopes, stands of old-growth forests Douglas-fir, and variable topography. These habitats generally have shallower snow and more available forage. Management plans are required for mule deer winter ranges to ensure that deer populations are sustained while providing for resource extraction. Integrating the needs of mule deer with the forest industry depends on an understanding of the habitats required during winter. Research on the winter diet, habitats and movements of mule deer in the Canim North Mule Deer Winter Range is essential in developing management plans for winter ranges. Only one sampling session was conducted during the 2002/2003 field season due to low snowfall and variable weather. The overall snow pack for the 2002/2003 sampling season was considerably lower than average and warm periods usually occurred after snowfall making track conditions poor. A total of 60 sets of mule deer tracks (105 sets when standardized to one week) were counted in the 184 segments sampled. The snow depth along the transects was shallow and ranged from 0-25 cm. At both the low and high elevation openings the snow depth was moderate (27.3 cm and 35 cm respectively). The previous years fecal pellet results have been obtained and incorporated in this report. Other studies indicate that the majority of the mule deer diets in the central interior consisted of a few species, and the results from this study are very similar in this regard. Western red cedar was the dominant conifer browsed with minimal browse detected on Douglas-fir. Variable snow pack conditions occurred in 2001/2002 ranging from shallow to very deep. No trends in forage were detected along the snow depth gradient. Douglas-fir has been found to form a large component of mule deer winter diets in other areas of the Cariboo Region; however, this species was only detected in one sample during 2001/2002 (moderate snow period). The most consistently abundant plant species detected in the fecal sample were: Oregon grape, falsebox, vaccinium spp., and western red cedar. The findings in this paper must be considered preliminary. With only one tracking session, few statistical inferences can be made. The fecal pellet analysis provides some information on browse preference; however, several more years of data are required before this information could be used to direct management on this winter range. prepared for Weldwood of Canada Ltd.
Peterson, P. Michael, Davis, Larry R.. 2003. Canim north mule deer winter range: 2002/2003 winter track transect and 2001/2002 fecal pellet analysis, 2nd sampling season interim report. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report. FIA2003MR011