Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Lewis and Clark in North Dakota:
Wildlife Then & Now
Black Tail Deer (Mule Deer)
The mule deer was first named and described by Lewis and Clark. Presettlement
distributions of mule deer in North Dakota were probably similar to what is
found today. The primary range of this animal has always been the Little Missouri
badlands but they were found in lower numbers on the prairie as far east as
the Missouri River, with a few small isolated herds located north and east of
the Missouri River.
As with all big game species, mule deer were nearly extirpated from the
state. By 1900 only a handful were left in remote corners of the badlands.
Mule deer can now be found throughout the badlands, along the breaks of the
Missouri River, and in small scattered populations south and west of the Missouri
River. Some habitat has been converted and lost for this species, but all
things considered, we are probably close to presettlement numbers of mule
deer in the state.
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