Although mule deer are “Least Concern” and not in need of conservation action, the Cedros Island subspecies is “Vulnerable” and in danger of becoming extinct because its densities are low and poaching and predation by feral dogs are high.
Where they occur, mule deer populations are typically managed by federal, state, and provincial agencies that monitor abundance and trends in order to set species management objectives. The species also occurs in several protected areas across its distribution. As a result, mule deer remain abundant throughout much of their native range and are not currently in urgent need of further conservation action, but some evidence in the United States and Canada has shown declines in some populations.
Although the entirety of the mule deer species is considered Least Concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, there are subspecies that are in danger of becoming extinct. Most of the mule deer’s subspecies are not threatened, but the Cedros Island subspecies (O. h. cerrocensis) is considered to be Vulnerable, as of 1988. This subspecies is in danger of becoming extinct because its densities are very low on the island where it occurs and predation by feral dogs and poaching are high. Other subspecies that live on islands are also considered endangered.
Additionally, in Mexico, some data show local extinction of some populations in the Chihuahuan desert region of Coahuila and Nuevo León Mexico, and in some populations, evidence of metapopulation dynamics for the species have been found.