Mule Deer in field
Mule Deer pair (Odocoileus hemionus) Photo credit: Janet Bauer

Feeding Habits: Mule deer are herbivores. They eat various leaves, flowers, twigs, shrubs and berries.

Unique Features: Mule deer use the reservoir year-round, but are more common when winter snows push them down to the shores of Wells Reservoir in search of rabbitbrush and other forage that is not buried in snow. The mule deer’s name originates from its mule-like ears that may have an overall ear span of 20-22 inches. Their sense of smell is said to be 500-1000 times stronger than humans. They can smell a human from 1/2 mile away, and can detect water up to 2 feet underground.

The reservoir shoreline as crucial winter range for mule deer. Typical winter shoreline inspections will document 20-40 mule deer, but during exceptionally deep snow periods you may see over 200. Both of these numbers are just a fraction of the total numbers wintering along or near the reservoir.

Cultural Significance: In the Salish language, šƛ̕aʔčínǝm, means deer; and šx̌ʷǝl̕ákǝn means black-tailed or large deer.