WILDLIFE IN THE COUNTY—DEER
Why is this important?
Deer populations are an important indicator of overall forest and wildlife health. Deer herds are very dynamic and when we see trends, we should take note as these common animals could be indicators of problems in other animals we do not count. For example, mice and deer have similar diets in a meadow and when one is sick usually so is the other species. The same is probably true with deer and range cattle. The food chains are complex but "everything is connected to everything else."
What is the measure?
The migratory Stanislaus Herd spring and fall birthrate of fawns to 100 does ratio was measured. The deer populations of Tuolumne County are of two general types—residential and migratory. Residential herds are generally seen at lower foothill locations near our homes. Migratory herds follow predictable routes from the summer high country to the winter ranges around 2,500 feet, where they may be found over-wintering in the company of resident deer.
How are we doing?
A long-term study of fawn survival shows two periods of decline in numbers of young animals: the first in the early l990’s and the second at this time. When combined, these research projects show a significant decline in migratory deer populations.
Diseases harm the animals and reduce the numbers that breed. Additionally, the increase in human population density and deer killed in traffic accidents contributes to their decline.
In 1928 a similar decline in deer numbers from a rapidly spreading disease was noted near Kennedy Meadows.