Effect of Hunting on Deer Reproduction and Urban Deer Management


Light to Moderate Hunting Does Not Reduce the Deer Population Over Time in an Otherwise Stable Environment

Deer production at Hopland Field Station
Guy E. Connolly, University of California
William M. Longhurst, University of California
California Agriculture 29(6):8-9. DOI: 10.3733/ca.v029n06p8. June 1975.
Abstract: Hunters and research workers took 2,267 deer from the 5,000-acre Hopland Field Station in southeastern Mendocino County from 1951 through 1974. About half of the deer were bucks taken by hunters and the remainder were antlerless deer shot or trapped for various scientific studies. Compared with this harvest of 12 deer per square mile of range per year, the average hunting kill for Mendocino County during the same period was only two deer per square mile per year. The heavier removal from the Hopland Field Station had no discernible effect on deer numbers, but fawn production and survival on the station were higher than elsewhere in the county. 

Effect of Density Reduction on Overwinter Survival of Free-Ranging Mule Deer Fawns
Gary C. White and Richard M. Bartmann
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 62, No. 1 (Jan., 1998) (pp. 214-225)
Page Count: 12
Understanding how overwinter survival of fawns changes as a function of density of deer is a critical relation for managing mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) populations. We examined change in overwinter survival of fawns in response to intentional density reduction by radiotracking fawns on control and treatment areas. Deer density on the treatment area was lowered about 75%, mostly from antlerless harvests in December. There were 7 years of pretreatment data, 4 years of harvest, and 3 more years of posttreatment monitoring. Fawn survival rate on the treatment area during the 3 winters after density was lowered averaged 0.16 higher (P = 0.001) than the control area. After density was lowered, body mass of fawns on the treatment area in November-December averaged 0.8 kg more than the control (P < 0.001). A parallel decline in deer density began on the control area 2 years after initiation of the intentional density reduction on the treatment area. This decline was unexpected and the cause unknown, which left unanswered what the differences in fawn survival and body size between the 2 areas might have been if the control population remained high.


Tyler State Park, If deer hunts worked, there would be fewer deer  December 9, 2012    Burlington County Times
This is the 25th consecutive year that Tyler State Park officials have sanctioned the slaughter of deer. This fact demonstrates the futility of the hunt, because if it truly worked to reduce the population, the hunt would not have to be repeated year after year... Verne Smith, a professor who teaches animal law at Widener University says, "Hunting decreases the herd one year and increases it the next. It's called compensatory rebound and the DCNR knows these facts. Wildlife scientists showed that twin-fawn births were almost three times greater in hunted herds. Hunting provides the PGC with license revenues and residents with a feeling that something is being done about deer numbers...
     
238 deer harvested in Oak Ridge hunt; 2 too hot to take home November 5, 2014 Tennessee, Knoxville News Sentinel 
... Organized hunts on the federal reservation began in the mid-1980s as a way to trim the size of the Oak Ridge deer population ... 

Mentor ends deer culling efforts, plans for future program February 11, 2013 Ohio, Plain Dealer
... bow hunting on private property and sharpshooters in city parks – netting 333 animals..  ""You can never take a year off ...Once you start this program, you have to keep going because of a rebound effect where the deer will return." ... said city Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Director Bob Martin ... 

Mentor deer program numbers up May 2, 2014 Ohio, The News-Herald 
... More than 400 white-tailed deer were taken this season ...  it’s still hard to quantify the management program’s success [said] City Council President Ray Kirchner ... It cost the city about $100,000 to launch the deer management program in fall of 2012. This year, $25,000 has been budgeted for supplies and deer meat processing fees. There are labor costs as well for culling...

Charleston, Urban deer hunt off to usual fast start September 22, 2013 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette
... bowhunters already have dragged 36 dead deer out of Charleston backyards.  That's as many as were killed in the entire 2008 season, said City Manager David Molgaard... " We'll never eradicate the nuisance." ... 

... Jackson City Council members are expected to rubberstamp the annual deer cull in Ella Sharp Park this week... Eric Terrian said in a memo to city officials the deer harvest is a result of deer population continuing to grow ... About 460 deer have been killed during the last six culls ... This will be the seventh annual deer cull ...

... This will be the 40th year that the refuge has held a regulated deer hunt. The purpose of the hunt is to maintain a balanced deer population ...

Results of the 2012-13 Allerton Park Deer Hunter Survey November 19, 2014 Illinois, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
... To try and curb the deer population at Allerton Park (Monticello, Illinois), a deer management program was instated in the fall of 2004 to reduce the size of the herd... All 35 Allerton Park hunters were mailed an 8-page questionnaire, and we received 23 (70%) questionnaires. Ninety-five percent of Allerton Park hunters indicated they had hunted at the park in previous years; 45% indicated there was no change in harvest for the 2012-13 season from previous years...

Duluth, Final summary for 2014 Duluth city deer hunt March 28, 2015 Minnesota, Duluth News Tribune
... Total registered harvest for the 10 years the hunt has been held (2005-2014) is 5,201. That includes 4,374 antlerless deer (84 percent)...

... While a representative from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) said hunting programs are the most effective way to control the overpopulation of deer, the Hillsdale Environmental Commission does not support it, citing safety reasons and fear of a "bounce-back" effect in the animal population...

Board again approves deer hunt in village September 14, 2015 Wisconsin, Hudson Star Observer
...  an annual deer bow hunt in the village ... the contract is with RiverValley Deer Management, LLC operated by local resident Lon Feia... “It’s the sort of program you can’t do just once,” Feia said. “ ... It’s like cutting grass, it keeps on growing...

Effect of limited antlered harvest on mule deer sex and age ratios Wildlife Society Bulletin 2005, 33(2):662–668, Chad J. Bishop, Gary C. White, David J. Freddy, and Bruce E. Watkins
Abstract In response to apparent declining mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) numbers in
Colorado during the 1990s, buck harvest limitations were identified as a possible mechanism to increase fawn:doe ratios and hence population productivity. Beginning in 1991, the Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) reduced buck harvest in 4 deer management units to provide quality hunting opportunities. We examined effects of limited harvest on December ratios of bucks:100 does and fawns:100 does using data from limited and unlimited harvest units. Annual buck harvest was reduced by 359 bucks (SE = 133) in limited harvest units as a result of limiting licenses. Fawn:doe ratios declined by 7.51 fawns:100 does (SE = 2.50), total buck:doe ratios increased by 4.52 bucks:100 does (SE = 1.40), and adult buck:doe ratios increased by 3.37 bucks:100 does (SE = 1.04) in response to limited harvest. Based on our analysis, factors other than buck harvest were regulating population productivity, and limiting buck harvest to enhance fawn recruitment is not justified in Colorado. Limited buck harvest should be considered an issue of quality hunting opportunity rather than deer productivity.

More Females as the Population Density Declines

... The proportion of males born each year declined with increasing population density and with winter rainfall, both of which are environmental variables associated with nutritional stress during pregnancy. These changes in the sex ratio corresponded to reductions in fecundity, suggesting that they were caused by differential fetal loss.

Fertility in Urban Areas

Logan, Preserving undeveloped areas in valley will help deer January 22, 2016 Utah, The Herald Journal
... They study found ... Deer received few benefits by spending their winter in the city. The few deer that remained in Logan the entire year produced no fawns, while those migrating to the mountains produced half as many fawns per doe as the deer tagged in rural areas near Richmond. The suggested reason is that deer within city limits must spend the day concealed and only forage at night, while deer in rural areas can feed throughout the day...

Cody, 290 Deer Located in Cody January 25, 2016 Wyoming, mybighornbasin
... A total of 290 deer, 283 mule and seven white tail ... Mule deer fawn:doe ratios were 76:100 in city limits, and 39:100 outside city limits...
Deer Produce More Fawns in Response to an Urban Hunt Since the Food Supply Is Increased for the Remaining Deer

"An additional complication in urban deer management is that per capita reproduction is density-dependent, meaning that the average number of fawns produced and reared by each doe increases as the total population decreases ... " - Cost and Controversy in Managing Urban Deer, NHS Reports March-April 2000

Hunting only lowers deer numbers on a temporary basis. A study by Richter & Labisky, "Reproductive Dynamics and Disjunct White-tailed Deer Herds in Florida," in The Journal of Wildlife Management, determined that the "incidence of twinning was 38% on hunted herds and 14% on nonhunted sites." 

Does Make Up For Losses Of Hunted Bucks November 28, 2000 Science Daily
... Labisky and colleagues examined the reproductive tracts of 380 legally harvested does from four areas of Florida.  ... Males comprised 56 percent of the fetuses in the hunted areas but just 39 percent in the non-hunted areas, it found. As if that weren't enough, the researchers also found 38 percent of does on hunted sites carried twins, compared with just 14 percent on non-hunted sites....

Urban wildlife: There are humane alternatives to ineffective culls
 June 11, 2013 British Columbia, Vancouver Sun
... Nicholas Read, author of a book on urban wildlife ...  American studies going back to 1951 have repeatedly found that with urban deer populations, per-capita 
reproduction is density dependent, so as population is decreased by slaughter, the number of fawns born and  reared to maturity increases in inverse proportion to cull rates.  It seems that the best way to stabilize urban wildlife populations might be to allow them to find a natural balance based on what the city environment will support ...

Reproductive Patterns of White-Tailed Deer Related to Nutritional Plane  Louis J. Verme, The Journal of Wildlife Management, Vol. 33, No. 4 (Oct., 1969), pp. 881-887
... Productivity of low-diet yearlings and prime-age animals amounted to 0.62 and 1.36 fawns per doe, respectively, compared to rates of 1.63 and 1.80 for high-diet deer.  Males comprised 70 percent of the births from physically mature mothers on low diet when bred, whereas males constituted 46.7 percent of the offspring conceived by does on high diet...

A text titled "Wildlife Ecology and Management" by Eric Bolen William Robinson states quite clearly: "The general theory of harvesting animals is based on the premise that when animals are not harvested at all, growth and recruitment are balanced by natural mortality and that the average growth rate of a population at its carrying capacity is zero. Harvesting reduces the population size, but the reduction results in an increase in the growth rate of the population. This increase in growth rate is brought about because of higher birth rates and lower death rates resulting from decreased competition for resources. This increased growth rate provides a surplus of individuals above the number required to replace the population, and this surplus can be harvested."

Little change in Doe permits July 30, 2017 Indiana, South Bend Tribune
... Indiana deer biologist Joe Caudell ... said deer respond to their environment. If there’s a lot of good habitat, the females produce multiple fawns and those fawns survive into the next year. “I know this sounds odd, but fewer deer in an area often produces more deer the next year,” he added. “When there is a drop in the population we see more and healthier does born in the spring.” ...

Big deer year expected across East Texas after wet spring November 1, 2015 Tyler Morning Telegraph
... removing excess deer this year will typically result in better fawn crops next year.  “Every year is a year to kill does.,, They are scared they are going to decimate their deer density, but the opposite happens. By knocking down the breeding population you are going to have more groceries available, and are going to have a better fawn crop,” Cain said. [Alan Cain, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s white-tailed deer program leader.]

East Lansin, City Council defers deer management action to 2016 November 30, 2015 Michigan, Michigan State University
... a strong sentiment against killing deer arose at the Nov. 17 City Council meeting. ... “What is the endpoint?” asked Altmann. “There is evidence that if you hunt a herd, the does become more effective (at reproduction),” 

Aerial deer survey results March 5, 2014 Connecticut, The Redding Pilot
... the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) conducted helicopter aerial deer surveys of four square miles in February 2013 and six square miles in January 2014... Average estimated deer density pre-sharpshoot and post state-regulated hunting season on the four square miles in 2013 was just over 30 deer/square mile. Average estimated deer density on four square miles on non-deer reduction areas (two CDC sites, two non-CDC sites) in 2014 was 34 deer/square mile...

Mt. Vernon, Deer season open in Mt. Vernon October 1, 2014 Illinois, Mt. Vernon Register-News
... The City Council approved bow hunting in the city limits in 2011 ... “We’re getting rid of 20 to 25 deer a year with the hunting program, which actually means we are reducing the number of deer by 50 to 75 the next year. It’s more common now for deer to have twins as opposed to single births.” ...

Wilton: Deer control: Hunting alone is not getting it done January 8, 2012 Connecticut, Wilton Bulletin
... Wilton's density of deer is presently about 69 deer per square mile, based on the Department of Environmental Protection's flyover count.... "If we harvest 300 a year it could take us maybe seven years.... But of course that does not include baby deer, which tend to come in twos." [Wilton's deer cull program has been in place since 2000]. 

... Michigan Department of Natural Resources biologist, Kristin Bissell, says a specific goal is needed before any proposal to reduce the deer population can be considered... controlling natural populations is not a quick fix, because "any time you're doing population level management ... you're committing to something long-term, because populations are constantly trying to rebuild themselves." ...

Upper Makefield hires deer managment company February 6, 2013 Pennsylvania, phillyBurbs.com
... Eccologix killed 1,024 deer in Upper Makefield between 2007 and 2010 and thinned the population down to about 90 deer per square mile, said company co-owner Eric Schade. It's now climbed back up to about 125 per square mile ...

Mother Nature gives Ohio deer harvest a boost January 30, 2016 Cleveland Plain Dealer
... Deer management supervisor Mike Tonkovich ... does have an average of 1.5 fawns each year when populations are low to moderate and food sources are plentiful... the average has been only .7 or .8 fawns per doe in recent years...

...  the city of Solon, Ohio, spent almost $1 million annually of tax payer money to cull approximately 300 deer ... One reason culling is ineffective is that “Deer also have the biological ability to regenerate themselves under hunted conditions ... Residents of Solon also complained the US Wildlife Service was indiscriminate in gunning down a high number of bucks, when culling should have been does-only ...

Solebury ponders action against deer February 6, 2013 Pennsylvania, phillyBurbs.com
... The township last sought to reduce the number of deer in the township in 2007, when there were about 155 deer per square mile, said Michael Kennerley, chairman of the deer committee. Afterward, the number dropped to 99 deer per square mile.  Ever since, the number has been increasing, rising from 99 to 105 that following year and then ever upward until the most recent estimate of 141 deer per square mile...

Pipestem, Controlled deer hunt scheduled at Pipestem Resort State Park November 13, 2015 Virginia, Bluefield Daily Telegraph
... Large numbers of deer ... have lower body weights and lower reproductive rates ... . Deer have been known to walk into buildings and other structures where they can become a hazard.  This lack of fear had made individuals who oppose the hunt question whether the planned harvest can be called a hunt...

... "Culling deer causes a rebound effect and more deer will populate," ... Read the full report from the Wildlife Management Task Force [PDF] ...

Populations Stabilize on Their Own

Jurisdictions struggle over how many deer are enough May 15, 2017 Minnesota, Minneapolis Star Tribune
... deer densities ... examinations of the deer turned up. They were skinny, and females expected to be carrying fawns weren’t... Shawn Riley, who teaches human dimensions of wildlife management at Michigan State University, said ... a lack of deer fetuses may be nature’s way of adapting to circumstances ...

Cody, Urban deer numbers show no real change February 3, 2016 Wyoming, Cody Enterprise
... After five years of counting it has been determined the size of the Cody in-city deer herd has barely fluctuated. “There are actually fewer deer than there were five years ago,” ... Some residents were concerned deer were proliferating ... Per-year numbers of deer include: 2011: 307 deer. 2012: 261. 2013: 296. 2014: 272. 2015: 290.

Petoskey, City defers on deer discussions November 9, 2017 Michigan, Petoskey News-Review
... car-deer crash statistics in the city going back to 2003 don't show any pattern of increasing numbers of crashes... 
 
Jekyll Island to spend 4 years, $150000 studying deer issue January 19, 2016 Georgia, WSB Atlanta
... the UGA study won't focus solely on deer; it also will look at whether such factors as fire and soil moisture are putting stress on the island's plants and forests. He said the overall number of deer seems to have held steady since the issue first arose about five years ago...

Ottawa Hills, Census sees drop in Ottawa Hills deer population February 2, 2015 Ohio, Toledo Blade
...  why even institute a cull and go through the expense when the population of deer has fallen by 50 percent,” said Michael Eisenstodt, part of villagedeer.com ...A count performed on Jan. 23 only spotted 36 deer ... Similar counts using helicopters and thermal imaging in January, 2009 and January, 2015 found 76 and 75 ...
     Ottawa Hills approves deer cull November 4, 2015 Ohio, Toledo Blade
... Ottawa Hills officials conducted an aerial count in 2010 and 2015, both times finding 76 deer...
... the deer count is virtually unchanged since 2009. Plus, "deer vehicle accidents have gone down 60% since 2009 and according to the Division of Health ...

Rochester Hills deer population down September 16, 2015 Michigan, The Oakland Press 
... Results of an aerial survey show the city’s deer population may have declined by nearly 20 percent over 2014.  The city has been infamous for its vehicle-deer crashes in the past and even went was far as to employ sharpshooters in a controversial 2009 deer cull.  “There really wasn’t a good place to do it,” Mayor Bryan Barnett said...

Volunteers count 8 deer at Homestead September 28, 2015 Nebraska, Beatrice Daily Sun
... The deer surveys started in May 2003 ... “This was the 37th deer survey complete since then ... On average, about 30 deer are seen, with the highest number recorded in February of 2010 with 120 deer and the lowest number recorded being five in September of 2003.” ...

Survey helps Cody plan for urban mule deer herd  November 29, 2014 Wyoming, Casper Star-Tribune Online
... Game and Fish wildlife supervisor Alan Osterland said the 2011 deer count of the in-town herd registered 307. The count was 261 in 2012, and 292 in 2013.  Those numbers indicate the population is "fairly static," and he doesn't expect to see any major difference in the results in December...

Buffalo: Too Many Deer Near Route 5? New York, WGRZ-TV
... Mark Kandel, a wildlife expert with the state Department of Conservation says the deer population in the area has been high for the past ten years.... Buffalo, Lackawanna and the northern part of Hamburg are closed to deer hunting. "...And have never really been open to deer hunting in the last 75 years, so the population is pretty much unchecked," ... experts have not seen a spike in numbers this year, and the warmer weather has not really impacted the habits of the deer...."The deer may be more visible because the weather conditions ... [no deer cull in this area, yet the population has been stable for 10 years, not doubling each year as some suggest will happen without an urban deer cull]

Fort Drum researchers take to sky for deer survey, note decline in population February 26, 2016 New York, WatertownDailyTimes.com
... The team estimated the main post area, south of Route 26, had about 304 deer following the survey, a drop from the 370 estimated in 2012... He attributed the decline to rough winters in recent years, which took their toll on populations ...

Example of The Increase in Fertility Resulting From and Urban Hunt
Watchung, Fifty Deer Killed in Watchung's Hunting Season February 15, 2013 New Jersey, Patch.com
... Killing does is the primary way to control the population, [Councilman] Franklin said. Through this year's hunt, 38 fetuses were killed, he said—some had twins and one doe had triplets ... When the borough had its first deer hunt, professional hunters were hired. But now ... the borough relies on sportsmen and clubs like the Warren Blue Ridge Sportsmen [this is a effectively a recreational hunt] ...

Springbrook Prairie, Deer population program begins November 5, 2013 Illinois, Naperville Sun
...Waterfall Glen, near Darien, has had a deer management program for 22 years ...An aerial census done each winter ...   Reproductive rates — which show 95 percent of the adult females taken out are pregnant with two fawns ...

Same for Mountain Lions
Study prompts Washington to revamp cougar hunting September 26, 2012 Summit County Citizens Voice
... Whether hunters killed 10 percent or 35 percent of cougars, the population remained the same... Based on the the 13-year study, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is implementing a new cougar management plan based on equilibrium management. Hunters will remove no more than the surplus of animals that would be generated through natural reproduction ... the 13-year study headed by Rob Wielgus, director of WSU’s Large Carnivore Conservation Lab, has overturned that presumption... 
.
Genetic diversity and population structure in urban white‐tailed deer JA Blanchong, AB Sorin, KT Scribner - The Journal of Wildlife Management, 2013
... We compared genetic diversity and structure among deer in 2 urban metroparks with deer in a fenced reserve and with deer from an open, continuously distributed population to inform urban deer management. If urban deer maintain species' typical matrilineal genetic structure, removal of female groups may effectively reduce local abundance. However, if gene flow in urban areas is high, dispersal may impede efforts to reduce abundance. Although genetic diversity was high and mean relatedness was near zero in all locations, distributions of pairwise relatedness in urban metroparks and the fenced reserve contained greater proportions of closely and distantly related deer than the open locations, likely attributable to matrilineal structure.... 
Effects of Urban Hunting Are Short-Term at Best

... commissioned McCrory Wildlife Services to conduct an independent review of urban deer culls in five BC municipalities ... "We found that culling either through expensive lethal methods or non-lethal translocations of deer from certain communities had some short term benefits but deer numbers rebounded fairly quickly because of their naturally good reproductive rates and from other deer simply moving in from the outside." ...

Philadelphia, Hill activists seek help from Cindy Bass to end killing March 12, 2015 Pennsylvania, Chestnut Hill Local... 
... The annual kill, announced by the city as a “one-time-only” event by then-Executive Director of the Fairmount Park Commission, William E. Mifflin, back in 1999, has presently been going on for 15 consecutive years. Since then over 1,000 deer have been killed in the Wissahickon, according to the Park Commission’s own statistics...

Ridgefield, Selectmen approve deer hunt October 2, 2014 Connecticut, The Ridgefield Press
... state officials had told them the town would have to continue to reduce the herd by about 300 deer a year in order to see a significant population decline, or to be able to change  from aggressive culling to a maintenance operation.  “You’re saying you have to hunt 300 deer forever,” said Selectwoman Barbara Manners ...

Lewis Morris Park struggles to restore forest habitat September 29, 2012 New Jersey, Dailyrecord.com
... the county park commission has for 16 years tried to manage through a controlled hunting program... When Lewis Morris Park initially was surveyed in 1996, there were 63.2 deer per square mile...  From late August to early October 2009, they conducted eight spotlight deer surveys in Lewis Morris and adjacent land in the Washington Valley section of the township and reported nearly 65 deer per square mile... Does in Lewis Morris produce two to three babies a year ... 

Medina trying to control deer population March 14, 2016 Ohio, Medina County Gazette
...“When you cull a herd, within one to three years the herd re-creates,” Lamb said. “The city of Solon in 2003-04 killed 1,000 deer. It cost them $500,000. In 2006, they had to cull the deer again because it had completely regenerated.” ...

Stevens Point looking at new option to cut deer population November 14, 2013 WAOW
...  "culling" to harvest antlerless deer. City leaders said they've been doing it for about 17 years ... "We've been doing it quite regularly, we think that the number of deer is roughly the same as it was," said Elbert Rackow, Stevens Point Deer Management Committee...  looking for a new way to cut down on deer in the city...

... Bow hunters who participated in Fargo's 2014-2015 annual wildlife management program harvested 35 deer ... Since the program started in 2006, 182 deer have been harvested...

Princeton, Use humane way to thin Princeton deer herds November 5, 2014 New Jersey, The Times, Trenton - NJ.com
... Now in its 15th year, former Princeton Township Mayor Phyllis Marchand's vile five-year plan to decimate Princeton's deer will apparently go on ad infinitum and has already soaked the town's taxpayers to the tune of millions of dollars...

December 31, 2014 New York, Newsday 
... [White Buffalo founder Tony DeNicola] said hunting has limited effectiveness in the suburbs because deer learn to take refuge in areas off-limits to hunters. "If hunting is working so well, then the East End of Long Island wouldn't be overrun with deer,"

Favored firm for deer cull accused of cruel methods November 15, 2009, Ohio, Toledo Blade
... Mr. DeNicola said he doesn't want to mislead anyone into thinking culls are a one-time deal. He likened deer management to mowing lawns - that is, it requires regular maintenance.  "If somebody's thinking one year, I'll tell them not to waste my time," ...

Groton, Annual Bluff Point deer cull nears end March 4, 2015 Connecticut, theday.com
... a thinning of the herd that has taken place there annually since 1996... the deer population has been particularly stressed by a poor fall crop of acorns ... and the deep snow this winter...

... With Wildlife Services often paid for mass deer killings directly by municipalities, local taxpayers are expected to be burdened with a minimum of $300 per deer killed by the Federal Government. Moreover, according to the Federal Government, the impact of these mass deer killings, would only be temporarily effective in reducing local deer populations: " ...

Deer Produce Fewer Fawns When Food Supply is Low:
Harsh winters, habitat loss hurts Plains hunting December 30, 2011 North Dakota, Boston.com... Three brutal winters and a steady loss of habitat ... Mule deer typically produce from 0.8 to 1.2 fawns per doe, but last year that number dropped to 0.59 fawns, ... said Randy Kreil, wildlife chief of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department ... "They may be pregnant going into the winter, but they're just not able to bring the fawn to birth ... they will reabsorb the fetus and use the energy to stay alive. If you have that happen three years in a row, you really limit the amount of new animals coming into the population." 

... Because they are the most sensitive to environmental stressors (both biological and sociological), the pregnancy status of doe fawns serves as an ideal indicator of overall deer herd condition. As deer numbers increase and/or habitat quality declines, fewer doe fawns will attain the necessary body condition to reproduce...

Twin Falls controls park deer population February 18, 2013 West Virginia, Wycoreport
... Park visitors reported seeing as many as 200 to 250 deer as they drove through the park during the 1980s and early 1990s.  “Now, you might see 15,” said park Superintendent Scott Durham.  At the time, Durham explained, the large deer herd on the park were over-browsing the food supply. As a result, he predicted then, the deer would destroy their future food supply and die from disease and parasites due to malnutrition.  “That didn’t happen,” Durham said last week. “What did happen is the deer stopped reproducing.” ...  response to a reduced food supply ... “We have observational evidence to support this,” emphasized Durham, who is a wildlife biologist...

Montgomery County Parks to Close for Deer Hunts September 26, 2014 Maryland, Patch
... . Beginning Oct. 28, several parks will be closed intermittently for Montgomery Parks’ annual deer management …  “In eighteen years of operations, and having harvested 13,000 deer ... The booming deer population  ... 

Shelter Island, Hunters sought to eliminate 'nuisances' February 11, 2015 New York, Shelter Island Reporter
... While no one has a take on deer population on the Island, he estimated the number of fawns at Mashomack were up 22 percent this year over last [common response to cull]... He reported 129 deer taken during the regular hunting season, up from 83 last year, with does accounting for 60 percent of the kills...

Higher density deer population move more frequently

Effects of population reduction on home ranges of female white-tailed deer at high densities, Howard J Kilpatrick, Shelley M Spohr, Kelly K Lima Canadian Journal of Zoology, 2001, 79:(6) 949-954, 10.1139/z01-057
ABSTRACT: The relationship between deer density and home range size is important in assessing the effectiveness of deer reduction programs and predicting the effects of deer on habitat. We quantified annual home range and core area size and spatial configuration of adult female white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) exposed to a population reduction program and a control group exposed to no population reduction program over a 4-year period (1994–1997). Deer were removed from Bluff Point during a 9-day shotgun hunt in 1996 and a 4-day removal program in 1997. Annual home range size during high deer densities (88–91 deer/km2) were larger than during periods of moderate (20 deer/km2) and low deer densities (11 deer/km2). We found a positive relationship between deer density and home range size. Annual home range size for the control group of deer did not differ among years. There were no significant shifts in the spatial arrangement of deer home ranges as deer densities were reduced. 

... The responses of deer density to unit-specific culls differed greatly among units, and a very weak correlation was observed between the intensities of unit-specific culls and the reduction in density. Deer populations in some units tended to resist density decreases despite high culling pressure, whereas those in other units were susceptible to density decreases with little to no culling pressure. Because the spatial scales of each unit were relatively small, annual density changes in each unit were largely influenced by deer movement in this estimation...

Urban Predators
What about introducing a predator? Allowing hunters to cull an urban environment is just a way of reintroducing a predator to control the population. Some have even suggested encouraging wolves or coyotes to control the deer population. A study by Scotte E. Henke summarizing the literature of the Effects of Coyote Control on Their Prey (2010) concludes: " Although white-tailed deer and bobwhite quail reproductive success increased with coyote removal, overall population densities for both species remained unchanged. This implies that a compensatory mortality mechanism is involved with these populations and that potential population increases of certain game species due to coyote removal are short-lived. All studies indicated that coyote control caused an immigration of coyotes into the removal areas. Coyote population densities returned to pre-removal levels typically within 3 months after removal efforts ceased."
     Therefore, short-term coyote removal programs typically are not sufficient in reducing coyote density and, therefore do not alter ecosystem composition. However, intensive, long-term coyote removal has been successful in reducing coyote populations by over 40%, which has resulted in prey-base increases.

New Research of Food Availability and Reproduction
Risk‐sensitive allocation in seasonal dynamics of fat and protein reserves in a long‐lived mammal  KL Monteith, TR Stephenson, VC Bleich, MM Conner… - Journal of Animal Ecology, 2013
... Our goal was to reveal the linkages between nutrition and life-history traits to understand how long-lived, iteroparous organisms balance the allocation of somatic reserves to reproduction, while retaining reserves as insurance for survival in unpredictable environments... Female deer mostly synthesized lean body tissue over summer and committed post-winter fat reserves to reproduction relative to their availability above an autumn threshold (>8·6% IFBFat), which was lowered by 2·8 percentage points (pp) for each additional young recruited. Mothers reduced their autumn fat threshold to secure current reproductive investment and, thereby, endured a cost of reproduction at the expense of fat accumulation... Consequently, behaviour and life-history strategies may be as much a function of nutritional contributions of the previous season as of the current one.

Hamilton, Deer population drops at Iroquoia Heights October 21, 2013 Canada, Jamilton spectator
... an aerial survey at the Ancaster park in February spotted 58 deer, down considerably from 2009, when 102 were counted ... Liz White, director of the Animal Alliance of Canada and a member of an advisory committee that recommended holding off on a hunt at Iroquoia Heights, said ... "In every town that I've been involved with where they've actually culled deer, the numbers have essentially remained about the same because new deer come in ... "But in circumstances where you just remove the feed, it doesn't support the numbers in that kind of density. I suspect that's true in Iroquoia Heights, too."