Arizona Deer Population:  An estimate of 190,000 deer in 2021.  About 178,000 deer in 2020, 159,000 in 2017, 150,000 in 2016, and 159,000 in 2015.  Drought in 2018 reduced populations somewhat. The state estimates 85,000 to 100,000 mule deer in 2017 through 2020.    About 135,000 deer in 2014 when populations were devastated by drought.  The population declined from the 1980's, but somewhat stable since 2000.  Herd analysis at right.  Historical Arizona hunting data and news archive.

Arizona Deer News

... Arizona has yet to record its first case of chronic wasting disease in a local animal, but it borders states that have been dealing with the disease for years... “Our populations are already at risk because they are under stress from drier and hotter summers,” ..,

... “It’s likely that there have been deer with CWD that have moved onto the nation at some point. Whether that has infected our resident deer or significantly affected our deer, I can’t say,” said Jessica Fort, a wildlife biologist for the Navajo Nation...

Mama elk fights off bear attacking her newborn May 27, 2021 Arizona, OutThere Colorado
... The cow elk delivers a swift kick to the bear after it attacks her newborn nestled under a tree branch. The bear swipes at the calf who can be heard screaming out for its mother's help...

New Study Advocates Reintroducing Jaguars in Arizona and New Mexico May 20, 2021 Field & Stream
... A new study published in the scientific journal, Conservation Science and Practice ... Arizona currently has an estimated population of 85,000 Coues deer, 105,000 mule deer, and 30,000 elk, while New Mexico has up to 15,000 Coues deer, 100,000 mule deer, and 106,000 elk..,

Arizona’s deer, elk clear of Chronic Wasting Disease April 23, 2021 White Mountain Independent
... Department officials did not find any cases of CWD in the 1,589 deer (mule and white-tailed) and elk that were sampled in 2020 — the most in more than a decade..,

Authorities searching for suspects in illegal killing of mule deer in AZ February 11, 2021 Arizona, TUCSON News Now Kold
... a $1,500 reward for anyone with information leading to the arrest of whoever is responsible for the illegal killing of several mule deer near Congress, AZ...

... AZGFD Assistant Director Clay Crowder hailed the new study, saying “Mexico contained 90% of the Mexican wolf’s historical habitat, so it is unjustified to force recovery entirely in the United States... there are an estimated 163 Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico and perhaps 30 more in Mexico’s Sierra Madre mountain range..,

... Animals can be deterred from using scarce water sources in drought-stricken areas because so many people place and check on remote cameras ... water holes with 30 to 40 cameras on them ...

... The Arizona Game and Fish Department is now conducting aerial surveys of deer and javelina populations in southeastern Arizona through Jan. 20.  Helicopter flights lasting up to five hours ...

Hunter behavior has direct impact on public opinion November 6, 2020 Arizona, Payson Roundup
... we stand together for fair chase, which is defined by the Boone and Crockett Club as “the ethical, sportsmanlike, lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper or unfair advantage over such game animals.”...

... Game and Fish officials said the elk was killed between the evening of Sept. 15 and the morning of Sept. 17 southeast of Pinedale, which is in northeastern Arizona.   The elk's antlers were removed and the meat was left to waste...

... The caller said the deer could barely move, and was accompanied by two fawns.  The nearly-lifeless doe had a wire fence wrapped around her neck and her front legs, and was unable to feed her babies.  Officers tranquilized the deer, and after she was asleep, they freed her...

... Hunters are encouraged to bring in the head of their harvested animal — especially bucks and bulls — and include accurate hunter and hunt information ...

Baby elk abound in Rim Country July 24, 2020 Arizona, Payson Roundup
... in 1913, one year after Arizona achieved statehood, when 83 elk were brought by rail from Yellowstone Park and released in Cabin Draw near Chevelon Creek. Arizona Game and Fish now estimates that Arizona’s elk population stands at about 45,000 post-hunt adults ..,

...  Fast-moving and intense flames are causing wildlife to flee... "We have black bears, deer, javelinas, bighorn sheep, some elk ... The vegetation that grows back after the wildfire is actually more nutritious for wildlife ...

... A few days ago, a group of mule deer were spotting midday moving west of the general fire area by crossing North Oracle Road on a wildlife overpass near Catalina State Park.  “You usually don’t see mule deer crossing in broad daylight ...

... captured a 10-second video of a deer that approaches and sniffs the border wall from the Mexican side but is unable to cross... with about 15 of the planned 24 miles built through this valley, the number of animals are now starting to decline as they apparently are avoiding the heavy machinery noise ...

Western Wildway Wildlife Corridors May 27, 2020 Arizona, KNAU Arizona Public Radio
...  ‘Western Wildway’. It’s a 6,000 mile-long wildlife corridor  ... on sections of Highway 89 between Kanab and Page, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Utah Department of Transportation have been using guide fencing and modifying underpasses. That way, migratory animals, including the Kaibab-Paunsagunt mule deer, can cross safely...

Wild Mexican wolf numbers surged in 2019 April 24, 2020 Arizona, Payson Roundup
... The number of wolves in the wild has grown sharply in the last two years ... The 163 wolves included 76 in Arizona and 87 in New Mexico. The wolf population has increased at a rate of about 10% annually for the past 10 years, despite heavy losses.  The census found at least 42 wolf packs at the end of 2019 ..,

... plans to open 2.3 million acres of land for hunting and fishing at more than 100 national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries under a proposal unveiled Wednesday ... In Arizona, hunters would be able to go after mountain lions and mule deer at Cabeza Prieta and bobcats, fox, and mountain lions at Buenos Aires, both national wildlife refuges...

This video was obtained from February through November 2019 at the water hole in my Tucson, Arizona yard on a Bushnell trail cam. - March 22, 2020


First Report of Adenoviral Hemorrhagic Disease in Three Mule Deer in Arizona  SH Ferguson, JK Lee - Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 2020
... These cases represent the first known outbreak of deer adenovirus (Odocoileus adenovirus 1) in Arizona. Over the span of a month, three female captive mule deer were submitted to Midwestern University's Animal Health Institute for postmortem examination. All of these deer were from the same deer farm and historical findings were similar, consisting of acute presentation of hemorrhagic diarrhea and sudden death...

Judge overturns agency's OK for new copper mine in Arizona February 10, 2020 Washington Times
... Lawyers for the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity said federal agencies have failed to protect public land and resources in mountains that are home to endangered jaguars and cougars, black bears and deer...

... Edible portions of the deer were taken and the rest was discarded ... “This was the act of a criminal, a person without regard for the state’s most precious resource, its wildlife,” ...

The work that this organization accomplishes with mostly volunteers is remarkable. Please find out more how you can help in Arizona's wildlife conservation by going to arizonaelksociety.org. -- January 20, 2020 Arizona


... surveys, which are conducted using low flying aircraft, help maintain animal populations in the state... will help us determine how many hunting tags to let out in a given year ... focused on hoofed-animals such as deer, mule deer, whitetail deer and javelina. He also says those populations have remained fairly stable over the years..,

Game Officials Look For Mule Deer Poacher On Kaibab Plateau December 16, 2019 Arizona, KNAU Arizona Public Radio
... the buck was illegally taken between October 27 and 29 in Game Management Unit 12AW. The carcass was left to waste in plain sight...

Fire in the Superstitions: Effects of the Woodbury Fire on Wildlife December 2, 2019 Arizona, Apache Junction News
... In an AZGFD press release, Game Specialist Dustin Darveau, commented, “…we were pleasantly surprised at the amount of wildlife we saw within or adjacent to the burn area… We observed 81 white-tailed deer, a black bear, some bighorn sheep, a few mule deer ...we didn’t see any carcasses.” He stated that this could prove to be a beneficial burn for wildlife, but cautioned that, while some areas will recover quickly, maybe in 1-3 years, other higher burn intensity areas, “may take decades.” ...

This is a collection of coues buck pictures I've gotten on my trail cams over the past several years. Some of them are big bucks and some of them are just pictures I really like. I love getting pics of these small whitetail deer and I hope you enjoy the photos. All of them were taken in Southern Arizona. - December 1, 2019



Judge blocks copper mine project in Arizona national forest November 26, 2019 Arizona, Wellston Journal
... eastern slope of the Santa Rita Mountains ... Conservation and tribal groups on Thursday praised the ruling, saying it recognized that the Forest Service failed to protect public land and resources in mountains that are home to endangered jaguars and cougars, black bears and deer...

Authorities investigating poaching of a bull elk near Heber October 2, 2019 Arizona, AZCentral.com
... A reward of up to $1,500 is being offered for information leading to an arrest in the case.  Authorities say an additional $2,500 reward is being offered by the Arizona Elk Society and $2,500 by the Arizona Deer Association ...

Drought and border wall endanger Arizona's wildlife October 1, 2019 NationofChange
... “As the drought has deepened, the waters that wildlife traditionally used are going away or have completely disappeared,” ... Water catchments in Arizona bring a resurgence of mule deer ..,

The Crazy Things Biologists Do to Track Animals September 30, 2019 Arizona, Inside Science News Service
... The first time Paul Krausman jumped out of a helicopter and wrestled a deer to the ground was in 1978. Another researcher had shot a net over the deer moments before ... has now made that leap well over 100 times ... a wildlife biologist at the University of Arizona ...

Arizona Game and Fish asks for donations for water for wildlife September 2, 2019 AZFamily
... The exceptionally dry and hot summer has major consequences for the wildlife... In the high country, deer, elk and bears use the catchments... "We've hauled over 90,000 gallons in just the last month and about a million gallons since the first of the year," ...

... Department officials did not find any cases of CWD in the 1,200-plus deer (mule and white-tailed) and elk that were harvested by hunters and voluntarily submitted for testing in 2018. Game and Fish has been testing for the presence of the disease in Arizona since 1998. While CWD has been found in the neighboring states of Utah, New Mexico and Colorado, the disease has not been detected in Arizona. CWD has not been documented to cause disease in people...

... The animal's mother was recently hit and killed by a vehicle in Safford...

Fifty years of deer August 9, 2019 Arizona, AZDailySun.com
... the Grand Canyon Deer Farm opened in Williams on Aug. 15, 1969 ... While some animals are born at the farm, many are rescues... “The ones that come as rescues, they need you and they really bond to you well,” ... opportunities for visitors to feed the fallow, coues, Japanese sika and mule deer “snacks” ...

... The data will identify wildlife corridors where deer travel from one place to another, and may eventually lead to highway projects that create safer roads for both drivers and deer...

Biologists collar deer in Flagstaff to track movement July 2, 2019 Arizona, Albuquerque Journal
... Twenty mule deer near Flagstaff have been outfitted with collars to study their movement... 

Cow elk wanders into Kingman city limits June 24, 2019 Arizona, Mohave Valley News
... A cow elk made a spectacle of herself roaming into the Kingman city limits from the nearby Hualapai Mountains early Sunday... [photo from Arizona Game and Fish]

Our friend Neil captured this video of a deer swimming while he was out fishing at Bartlett Lake last weekend. - April 16, 2019 Arizona


Elk and deer antler growth should be good this year April 5, 2019 Arizona, Payson Roundup
... This year, the rains have been good and the areas below 3,000 feet are already blanketed in green with an abundance of wildflowers. This is a main food source for deer, elk and other wildlife..,

Poacher owes Arizona $16,000 for killing two deer April 2, 2019 White Mountain Independent
... and lost his Arizona hunting and fishing privileges for five years ... two counts of taking a mule deer with an unlawful method (bait) ...

G&F releases proposed hunt recommendations March 27, 2019 Arizona, Wickenburg Sun
... available for review at www.azgfd.gov/huntguidelines ... comment by April 13 ...

Arizona Big Game Super Raffle offering "early bird" prizes March 26, 2019 Williams News-22 hours ago
... annually awards the raffle a total of 10 Special Big Game Tags, one for each of the state’s big game species — bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn ... Last year’s event generated a record $692,590 ...
... To compensate the state for the lost value of the unlawfully taken wildlife, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission imposes civil assessments. The $41,650 collected by the commission in 2018 was added to Game and Fish Department's Wildlife Theft Prevention Fund ...

... Bidders were calling in from across the nation, and group organizers felt the amazing selling price was due at least in part to the wet weather and snow pack experienced in Arizona this off-season. Moisture is a significant contributor to antler growth in elk...


Deer Data:  An estimate of 190,000 deer in 2021, 105,000 mule deer and 85,000 Coues deer.  About 178,000 deer in 2020.  The state estimates 85,000 to 100,000 mule deer in 2017 through 2020, or about 92,500.  Based on harvest data, about 85,000 whitetails (Cous), 66,000 whitetails in 2017, 58,000 in 2016, and 63,000 in 2015.  About 159,000 deer in 2017, 150,000 in 2016, and 158,000 in 2015. Drought in 2018 reduced populations.  Good rains in spring of 2019, but drought returned in the summer with high temperatures.  Populations thought to be approximately stable over recent years No harvest data for 2018 given low hunter response to surveys.  All hunting tags in 2019 remain at $16.  A fallow deer, naive to Eurasi, was found dead near Nogales in 2017.  A 2016 study found that predation accounted for 64% of fawn mortality in central Arizona.
      Deer have rebounded somewhat from the 2014 drought, worst in 110 years which devastated deer populations in some areas.  About 135,000 deer in 2014.  Deer hunt permits in 2015 totaled 43,326, 42,175 in 2014, and 43,716 in 2011. The post-hunt 2009 mule deer population was estimated at 75,000 to 80,000 [see p. 6, Hunt Arizona 2012], the white-tailed population was estimated at 70,000 to 75,000.  
     The all time high population was around 1961 when hunters took 35,897 deer [see p. 7].  A second, more recent peak in the early 1980's with the deer declining through until about the year 2000, about stable since then.  The states decision to go a buck-only hunt in 2000 has had no appreciable impact on the population.  In 2015 there were 43,326 hunt permit-tags issued, 42,175 in 2015, and 43,716 in 2011.  From the early 1960s to 2006 the mule deer population in central Arizona declined from 11 deer/km2 to 2 deer/km2.
   Despite a serious overpopulation of deer on the North Kaibab in the 1920s, deer numbers had declined dramatically from over hunting in the rest of the state. From the  Arizona Daily Star, Friday, May 12, 1922: "Deer and other game became scarce for a while when human predators almost killed them off in the area, so a reserve was created where hunting was banned. "  In 1929, the mule deer season was closed south of the Gila River, and even as recently as 1946, fewer than 5,000 mule deer were harvested.  For reasons that are still unclear, deer populations began to increase, 1961 was the all time high.  Poor fawn survival reduced the harvest to 16,000 by 1970. 
      A series of droughts since then have kept populations down. [Hunt Arizona, p. 7] Whitetails comprised less than 15 percent of Arizona’s deer harvest in 1961, nearly 40 percent in 1998 , and almost half in 2020. The 2013 deer survey found 23 mule deer bucks per 100 does, 26 whitetail bucks per 100 does.
     Chronic Wasting Disease  No cases have been found in the state as of the 2020-21 hunting season with 1,589 deer and elk  sampled that year.  In 2016 more than 750 deer sampled.  In 2017, 1,200 deer sampled.
     Epizootic hemorrhagic disease, first detected in the west in 2017, killed about 30 deer in 2018.
    Elk, an estimated 45,000 in 2020.  
    Mountain lion population estimated at 2,500 to 3,000 in 2015.
    Mexican Gray Wolf population estimated at 76 in 2019 and at least 64 in January, 2017.   Estimated at 163 in Arizona and New Mexico in 2021.
    Jaguar ... the last legally killed jaguar, a male, was taken by a deer hunter in the Patagonia Mountains, south of Tucson [in 1965] ... a single jaguar was captured on video in Arizona in 2016

Report Poaching:  call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-352-0700 or report online at: www.azgfd.gov/ogt_form.shtml   Rewards up to $8,000.
Deer Helpline:  By texting CRITTER TO 41444, you are helping Arizona Game and Fish care for sick, injured, and orphaned animals at our Wildlife Center

Other useful links:
Arizona Deer Association 
HabiMap.Org a wildlife information system to help the state in conservation efforts, 300 layers of wildlife data and interactive maps





Mission Statement: Goals: The Department manages wildlife using the North American Model, which asserts that wildlife is held in public trust — not owned by any one person or entity, regardless of whether the animal is on public or private land or water.
     Wildlife is managed based on the overall public good. The North American Model allows non-frivolous use of wildlife, and relies on scientific research-based management. It recognizes that wildlife cannot be managed along political bound aries, so cooperation across boundaries is a neces sity. The North American Model also relies on laws and enforcement, and provides the public a voice in wildlife management decisions.