Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) along with the white-tailed deer, are one of the most common large mammals in north Idaho and northwest Montana. The mule deer is named for the shape of its ears, which resemble those of the domestic mule. It is ear shape, along with black-tipped tails and differing antler pattern, which distinguishes the mule deer from the white-tail, although they are otherwise very similar.
Mule deer populations are very healthy in our region, to the point of over population, in part because of low wolf populations. Historically, grey wolves were a major predator of deer. In our area, mule deer can most commonly be spotted along Schweitzer Mountain road, so keep your eyes peeled next time you drive up the mountain!
Interesting facts about Mule Deer:
- Deer are essentially blind to reds and oranges, which is why orange is used as a safety color for hunters
- Mule Deer are one of the other mammals which are susceptible to tuberculosis
- Wild mushrooms are a common source of food for mule deer
- Mule Deer are often seen stotting, or pronking, a motion in which they leap into the air with all four feet, like gazelles
- A population of mule deer was introduced to the Hawaiian island of Kauai in 1961, and this population survives today