Mule Deer in the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge
The mule deer are indigenous to western North America and are a majestic symbol of the American West. This type of deer is called mule deer because their ears are big like the ears of a mule.
Mule deer are keenly aware of their environment. They have excellent vision and hearing. Due to the placement of their eyes on the sides of their heads mule deer have great peripheral vision. They see 310 degrees around themselves. Mule deer also have an amazing sense of smell – much better than humans. They can sense smells as far as a half mile away and can find water up to two feet underground.
Mule deer are herbivores and mainly forage on plants and berries. Their favorite foods include grasses, shrubbery, twigs, leaves, mushrooms, and acorns.
Mule deer are not well equipped for fighting against other animals so they stay alert and rely on their quick speed to avoid harm. When in trouble a mule deer notifies others of the danger by running away in a movement known as “stotting,” in which all four hooves push off the ground simultaneously. It looks something like a leap and can take a mule deer as far as 15 feet in a single hop!
Unfortunately, mule deer have experienced significant habitat loss and rates of death have increased due to highway crossing collisions and poaching. Conservation of this species is very important.
Today the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge is a safe haven for these deer. Populations of mule deer that live on the refuge form an important bond between Colorado’s wildlife and Denver-area residents who enjoy connecting with wildlife.
Photo Courtesy of Jim Coda Photography