WAFWA Mule Deer Habitat

Downloadable Data: 
This dataset is intended to provide resource managers regional scale information (1: 250,000) on mule deer habitat for wildlife conservation and management purposes.

This GIS dataset represents the distribution of mule deer habitat throughout the western United States. Mule deer habitat is divided into 6 separate GIS layers corresponding to 6 types of mule deer habitat: 1)limited range, 2) summer range, 3) other important habitat, 4) winter range, 5) winter concentration, and 6) year-round population. Information on mule deer limiting factors, adopted by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) Mule Deer Working Group, associated with each habitat type is provided within the GIS datasets. Habitat delineations were identified through a Delphi process on a state-by-state basis and were subsequently tablet-digitized from 1:250,000 scale maps.


Mule deer habitat extends across jurisdictional boundaries. In the past, there were no range-wide habitat maps available that identified the distribution of mule deer in North America, nor was there a database that identifies the factors that limit the quality of mule deer habitat. When the Mule Deer Working Group began planning for a Joint Venture Habitat Restoration Project, they found that the lack of this information made cross-jurisdiction project planning very difficult. They believed other planning projects have been stymied by the lack of this planning tool. They investigated methods to develop such databases and found that the previous project by Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) was the most suitable model to pursue. This is particularly true given the commitment from RMEF to provide existing databases to this project at no cost to the MDWG. With this database in place, resource managers now have a tool that they can use to identify important mule deer habitats to maintain or enhance existing habitat values.