BOISE, Idaho — More young mule deer perished during Idaho's freezing winter months than monitors expected, but elk fared better, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
In all, just 42 percent of radio-collared mule deer fawns made it through the winter, well below the average survival rate of 58 percent. Fish and Game officers say February's significant snowstorms, followed by a cool and wet spring, contributed to the number of deaths.
The winter weather had less of an effect on elk calves: 69 percent of the collared calves survived, according to biologists. Although Fish and Game did not begin catching and collaring elk calves until 2014, their winter survival rates are typically higher than young mule deer.
A total of 209 mule deer fawns and 196 elk calves were monitored this year after being captured in early winter and fitted with telemetry collars.
Adult animals are much more likely to survive, except in extreme winter years. Ninety-one percent of the 539 doe mule deer monitored this year survived; 96 percent of the 578 cow elk survived.