The Mule Deer Foundation (MDF) has partnered with the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) and the Arizona Deer Association to host a habitat project manager to coordinate mule deer conservation projects on the Kaibab Plateau. and the Arizona Strip. Funding for the projects comes largely from the sale of coveted specialty big game tags, including the Arizona statewide mule deer tag sold at the Western Hunting & Conservation Expo; in 2022, the tag sold for $400,000 with 100% of that funding going to Arizona mule deer habitat projects. Todd Buck, who has served as a wildlife manager and law enforcement officer for AZGFD in North Kaibab since 1992, was recently hired to implement the habitat projects and began his work with MDF on October 5.
“The Arizona Panhandle and Northern Kaibab are legendary mule deer areas that have seen some population impacts due to years of extreme drought and declining habitat conditions,” said Mule Deer Foundation President and CEO Joel Pedersen. “The Mule Deer Foundation is excited to work with our partners at Arizona Game and Fish and the Arizona Deer Association to welcome Todd Buck, who brings so much experience and credibility to the work to be done in this region.”
Famous for its investment records, the Kaibab mule deer herd ranks high in conservation history. The herd was the subject of one of our nation’s first attempts at large-scale wildlife population management, beginning in 1906 when President Theodore Roosevelt established the plateau as a game reserve. Population studies of mule deer in the Kaibab, some of which were managed by one of the fathers of wildlife management, Aldo Leopold, provide the foundation for how wildlife managers regulate herds and the countryside. population dynamics.
To help manage habitat critical to sustaining the state’s wildlife, the Arizona Habitat Partnership Committee (HPC) allocates revenue generated through the sale of special big game tags. HPC has committed more than $540,000 to mule deer habitat projects in Game Management Units (GMUs) 12AW and 12AE, and a total of nearly $1.3 million throughout the Arizona Pan. This funding is supplemented by millions more provided by project partners such as the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service (USFS), Grand Canyon National Park, and MDF. Leveraging these funds, the partners will begin removing invasive conifers on more than 2,000 acres using $100,000 from the AZGFD Habitat Enhancement Program and are also planning a significant expansion of work in the region.
The habitat projects will be coordinated by Todd Buck, who has spent three decades working in the North Kaibab. In addition to being a full-time law enforcement officer, Todd has worked on projects in all facets of wildlife management in Arizona. Designed and implemented large-scale mule deer habitat projects, developed and implemented a water distribution plan that included 32 new water sources (as well as repairs to over 40 water intakes) to improve water availability for wildlife in the Kaibab, and helped with a project to rebuild structures in critical Apache trout habitat. Todd’s project work resulted in more than $4 million invested in GMU 12A during his career and he developed a number of partnerships with ranchers, contractors, land owners, and state and federal employees. The USFS recognized Todd’s knowledge and stewardship of the Northern Kaibab with an award in 2022 and received the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Wildlife Manager of the Year in 2021. Todd is excited to continue developing and implementing deer projects. bura throughout the Arizona Panhandle and the Northern Kaibab.
“Todd knows the Kaibab well and has extensive contacts and an excellent reputation for getting the job done on the ground,” concluded MDF director of conservation Steve Belinda. “We are pleased to have him join our conservation programs team to expand partnership opportunities with Arizona Game and Fish, Arizona Deer Association, the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service, and to implement the projects of habitat that will make a difference. for these legendary mule deer herds.”
The Mule Deer Foundation is the only conservation group in North America dedicated to restoring, enhancing and protecting mule deer and black-tailed deer and their habitat, with a focus on science and program efficiency. MDF is a strong voice for hunters on issues of access policy, wildlife management, and conservation. MDF recognizes regulated hunting as a viable management component and is committed to the recruitment and retention of men, women and youth in shooting sports and conservation. Get involved in your state or become a member at www.muledeer.org or call (801) 973-3940.