The Muley Fanatic Foundation, a 501 C (3) non-profit conservation organization, was established in 2012 by Joshua Coursey and Joey Faigl. Headquartered in Green River, Wyoming, MFF aims to ensure the conservation of mule deer and their habitat and to provide supporting services to further the sport of hunting and sound wildlife management.
MFF currently has 9 Chapters and operates with a simple model of efficiency that allows each of the Chapters to retain 70% of their net earnings. Equally important, each MFF Chapter is charged with the duty of developing their own local volunteer Project Allocation Committee (PAC) to allocate their raised revenue in their backyard. To date MFF has put nearly $800,000 on the ground since its inception. Such allocations include but are not limited to: science based research, fencing projects, highway overpasses, invasive weed control, riparian development, predator control, youth education, forage treatments, prescribed burns and conservation easements.
While multiple projects have been sought out to further the MFF mission, one of the key cornerstones of MFF has been from the beginning to be a proactive proponent for obtaining the latest science available. “With a steady decline of mule deer over the last 20 years it is clear that we need to better understand the variables limiting mule deer numbers. There is no simple answer. An ever changing landscape with shrinking habitat, predators, development, drought, disease, competition and changes to migration movements are all having an impact on mule deer,” said Coursey.
In an effort to bring science to the forefront, the Muley Fanatic Foundation is leading the charge to launch the largest mule deer research project of its kind being dubbed, The D.E.E.R. (Deer Elk Ecology Research) Project, which is slated to begin in late 2015. Being led by the University of Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the project will measure factors impacting mule deer reproduction, evaluating habitat selection on seasonal ranges, monitoring the movement and distribution of mule deer and elk and their migration routes, and identifying what is limiting the recruitment of adult male mule deer in population.
The four year PhD project will cost nearly one and a half million dollars and will include a number of new and innovative techniques used to meet the goals of the project. The methods that will be used are adult capture and monitoring, fawn capture and monitoring, study of diet composition, study of resource selection, and study of male recruitment. To complete all of these tasks some of the technology that be used include four different type of radio collars, vaginal implant transmitters, helicopters capturing, satellite monitoring and lab analyses.
The unique component of this project is that it is truly a grassroots effort being kick started by the Muley Fanatic Foundation. Efforts to cover the costs associated with this game changing research project will largely be funded through a variety of innovative raffles known as Buck Fever Raffles.
If interested in starting a MFF Chapter in your neck of the woods, please don’t hesitate to contact the Muley Fanatic Foundation to learn more. The Muley Fanatic Foundation operates under the mission statement of: To ensure the conservation of mule deer and their habitat and to provide such supporting services to further the sport of hunting and sound wildlife management.