Effects of Cougar Predation and Nutrition on Mule Deer Population Declines in the Intermountain Province of the Columbia Basin, 2001-2002 Annual Report.

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Construction of the Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph dams has resulted in inundation and loss of 29,125 total habitat units for mule deer and irrigation agriculture in many parts the Intermountain Province (IM) of the Columbia Basin. Mule deer in the Shrub-Steppe are ranked high priority target species for mitigation and management and are declining in most portions of the subbasins of the IM. Reasons for the decline are unknown but believed to be related to habitat changes resulting from dams and irrigation agriculture. White-tailed deer are not ranked as target species and are believed to be increasing throughout the ... continued below

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54 pages

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Wielgus, Robert B. & Shipley, Lisa July 1, 2002.

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Description

Construction of the Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph dams has resulted in inundation and loss of 29,125 total habitat units for mule deer and irrigation agriculture in many parts the Intermountain Province (IM) of the Columbia Basin. Mule deer in the Shrub-Steppe are ranked high priority target species for mitigation and management and are declining in most portions of the subbasins of the IM. Reasons for the decline are unknown but believed to be related to habitat changes resulting from dams and irrigation agriculture. White-tailed deer are not ranked as target species and are believed to be increasing throughout the basin because of habitat changes brought about by the dams and irrigation agriculture. Recent research (1997-2000) in the NE IM and adjacent Canadian portions of the Columbia Basin (conducted by this author and funded by the Columbia Basin Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program B.C.), suggest that the increasing white-tailed deer populations (because of dams and irrigation agriculture) are resulting in increased predation by cougars on mule deer (apparent competition or alternate prey hypothesis). The apparent competition hypothesis predicts that as alternate prey (white-tailed deer) densities increase, so do densities of predators, resulting in increased incidental predation on sympatric native prey (mule deer). Apparent competition can result in population declines and even extirpation of native prey in some cases. Such a phenomenon may account for declines of mule deer in the IM and throughout arid and semi-arid West where irrigation agriculture is practiced. We will test the apparent competition hypothesis by conducting a controlled, replicated ''press'' experiment in at least 2 treatment and 2 control areas of the IM subbasins by reducing densities of white-tailed deer and observing any changes in cougar predation on mule deer. Deer densities will be monitored by WADFW personnel using annual aerial surveys and/or other trend indices. Predation rates and population growth rates of deer will be determined using radio telemetry. Changes in cougar functional (kills/unit time), aggregative (cougars/unit area), numerical (offspring/cougar), and total (predation rate) responses on deer will also be monitored using radio telemetry. The experiment will be conducted and completed over a period of 5 years. Results will be used to determine the cause and try to halt the mule deer population declines. Results will also guide deer mitigation and management in the IM and throughout the North American West.

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54 pages

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  • Other Information: PBD: 1 Dec 2002

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  • Report No.: DOE/BP-00006184-1
  • Grant Number: 00006184
  • DOI: 10.2172/803576 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 803576
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc734312

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  • July 1, 2002

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  • Oct. 19, 2015, 7:39 p.m.

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Wielgus, Robert B. & Shipley, Lisa. Effects of Cougar Predation and Nutrition on Mule Deer Population Declines in the Intermountain Province of the Columbia Basin, 2001-2002 Annual Report., report, July 1, 2002; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc734312/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.