California Deer News

      With cooperation from local landowners, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently captured and attached telemetry collars to 10 adult female black-tailed deer before successfully rereleasing them in western Siskiyou County.
CDFW staff work on a black-tailed deer during a recent capture in Siskiyou County.
CDFW staff work on a black-tailed deer during a recent capture in Siskiyou County.
The capture began a five-year investigation into factors responsible for declining population trends in the far north state. Beginning next year, CDFW plans to collar and monitor up to 50 adult females annually for this study.  The does were captured April 2 using helicopter net-gunning techniques, then carried to a base camp where biological samples and measurements were taken...

... To address concerns about deer and distracted drivers, the Los Altos Hills City Council is set Thursday to consider spending up to $5,000 on traffic calming measures for Fremont and Robleda roads...

... A good tip on the Californians Turn in Poachers and Polluters (CalTIP) hotline – combined with the well-trained nose of a K-9 wildlife officer – led to the recent conviction of a deer poacher in Susanville.  In June 2013, Warden Nick Buckler received a CalTIP from a concerned citizen regarding dangerous shooting activity southeast of Susanville. Suspecting a possible poaching incident, Warden Buckler searched the area and located a dead doe ... The condition of the carcass suggested the deer was killed by a shotgun blast....

Now that's a deer of a different color April 12, 2014 California, San Francisco Gate
... The Bay Area's one-of-a-kind partially albino black-tailed deer was sighted last week in Marin County for the first time this year...about a 75-pound doe with a tan body and yet a white face and forehead ...

Reduction in the number of deer tags recommended April 9, 2014 California, The Trinity Journal 
... Concerned that Trinity County deer herds appear to have experienced a drastic decline in numbers over the past 20 years, the Trinity County Fish & Game Advisory Commission has recommended to the California Fish & Game Commission a reduction in the number of deer hunt tags available here from two tags per person to one and a reduced season in the state regulations scheduled for update this year...

KL Monteith, VC Bleich, TR Stephenson, BM Pierce… - Wildlife Monographs, 2014
...  We intensively monitored nutritional and life-history characteristics of this population during 1997–2009 as it recovered from a population crash, which occurred during 1985–1991.  Deer in Round Valley migrated to high-elevation summer ranges on both sides of the crest of the Sierra Nevada (Sierra crest), where a rain shadow resulted in a mesic and more forested range on the west side compared with xeric conditions east of the Sierra crest... Our results indicate that management and conservation of large herbivore populations could be improved by integrating indices of nutritional condition into current monitoring and research programs. We offer a method to estimate the proximity of a population to nutritional carrying capacity (NCC) that is based on nutritional status of the population relative to population performance (termed animal-indicated NCC)...

Studies planned to monitor Siskiyou deer herds April 4, 2014 California, Siskiyou Daily 
... Siskiyou County’s deer herds have experienced declining population trends, and two large-scale studies are expected ... helicopter surveys in 2009 covering 308 miles found only 163 deer, with males constituting less than 3 percent of the count... there are also efforts underway at the state level to provide a state-wide deer strategy, but it has been stalled multiple times...

     The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) along with partners have successfully completed the capture of 36 tule elk from the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge in the San Joaquin Valley, relocating them throughout the state.  The collaborative effort included the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation as well as volunteers from federal and state agencies who provided time, expertise and other needed resources to help this capture go smoothly.
     “Seventy years ago, tule elk were on the brink of extinction and down to just a handful of animals,” said Senior Environmental Scientist Joe Hobbs. “Through CDFW’s wildlife management protocols and collaborative efforts with other wildlife organizations, we now have healthy and thriving herds across the state. It’s one the greatest wildlife success stories of our time.”  Tule elk are one of three sub-species of elk and are found only in California...

... a scheduled update on deer herd studies in Siskiyou County. A county task force in 2008 established a deer management plan, and a number of its solutions were dependent upon extensive data collection to better understand what factors have had deleterious effects on deer populations...

... Existing regulations provide for the number of license tags available for the A, B, C, and D Zones. This regulatory proposal changes the number of tags for all existing zones to a series of ranges presented in the table below. These ranges are necessary, as the final number of tags cannot be determined until spring herd data are collected in March/April.... The primary purpose of the proposed regulations is an annual review of tag quotas in existing regulations... 
     ... any person interested may present statements, orally or in writing, relevant to this action at a hearing to be at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 450 E. Harbor Blvd. Ventura Beach, California, on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at 8:00 a.m., or as soon thereafter as 
the matter may be heard. It is requested, but not required, that written comments be submitted on or before April 4, 2014 at the address given below, or by fax at (916) 653-5040, or by e-mail to Written comments mailed, faxed or e-mailed to the Commission office, must be received before 5:00 p.m. on April 11, 2014. All comments must be received no later than April 16, 2014 at the hearing in Ventura. If you would like copies of any modifications to this proposal, please include your name and mailing address. ..

Drought affects wildlife on first day of spring March 21, 2014 California, Palo Alto Online
...  they look bare -- even the yearlings. There's not much on their hips," Roessler said. ...she doesn't know what is causing the change in the deer, but speculated it could be the warm temperatures or nutritional deficiencies. Perennial plants deer depend on might not be growing fast enough to produce adequate forage, she said. That could result in fewer births this spring...

DFW work to relocate bighorn sheep, study deer March 21, 2014, California, Sierra Wave
... Mule deer are abundant in the Eastern Sierra, and scientists have long sought an accurate way to estimate their population and general health. This week marked the beginning of a five-year study ...

      The total preliminary reported buck harvest in California for the 2013 season was 14,159, a 13 percent increase from the previous year and the second recent upward trend in a long decline in the buck harvest.  Age distribution was 50.1%  2 Point Bucks, 31.4% 3 Point Bucks, 15.3% 4 Point Bucks, and 3.0% 5 Point or Greater.   The total harvest is not reported.


Deer Killings Near Big Rock Worry Neighbors  March 6, 2014 California, The Malibu Times 
... Five reported attacks on deer have occurred in the Big Rock and Carbon Mesa areas of Malibu over the last six weeks ...  it is unclear what type of predator killed the deer ... “Most predators start with internal organs,” ... But not coyotes...  “gnaw on large bones right away,” ...

Deer association puts out a spread – and puts on a show February 18, 2014 California, Colusa County Sun Herald
...  about 400 people on Saturday ... he didn't make it out to California until Saturday. Then, the hunting guide they booked called them to say that the hunting was no good. So much for that...

Lake County Deer Poachers Convicted and Sentenced February 18, 2014 California, CDFW News
... Five poachers were recently convicted and sentenced in Lake County for illegally spotlighting and killing deer, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Lake County District Attorney’s Office announced.  On August 24, 2013, Lake County Wildlife Officers conducted a night patrol targeting those who use bright lights to shine at and then kill deer at night, an illegal activity commonly called spotlighting. Warden-pilots from CDFW’s Air Services assisted by providing overhead surveillance.
Just after midnight, the warden-pilots noticed spotlighting near Lucerne. Using night vision, they observed occupants of a vehicle shoot and kill two animals...

Drought threatens California wildlife February 18, 2014 California, Al Jazeera America
... California's deer population, which numbered over two million in the 1960s, has steeply dropped ... If the state's drought continues, drying streams and ponds could be a cause for more concern, especially as vegetation dwindles...

Contra Costa County gets a big chunk of new parkland February 17, 2014 California, San Francisco Gate 
...  a 362-acre swath of pristine woodlands and ridgetops that's the largest park acquisition in western Contra Costa County in 35 years... Mountain lions, coyote, deer, hawks, a variety of snakes and other creatures roam the property, taking advantage of the open-space corridor that stretches almost seamlessly from Richmond to Castro Valley. ..

SLO County wildlife is weathering the drought February 17, 2014 California, San Luis Obispo Tribune ·
... “I have noticed the local deer populations eating plants like hedges that have never been on their preferred menus,”  ... they are beginning to congregate near lakes and populated areas in search of food and water... 

Drought spells lean times for Santa Cruz County wildlife February 16, 2014 California, San Jose Mercury News
... Animals are drawn to the readily available food and water in the lush environments around our homes ...  an unusual number of complaints lately about skunks, raccoons and deer digging up lawns and landscaping... "People could have a little more compassion and tolerance. This drought is a hardship on everybody, but for these animals, it's their life. Desperation is driving them into our communities more than ever." ...

California's Deer Management Has Resulted in a Highly Skewed Population Demographic That May Be Contributing to the Long Term Decline of the Species
February 14, 2014 
Sonke Mastrup, Executive Director 
California Fish & Game Commission 
1416 Ninth Street, Suite 1320 
Sacramento, California 95814 
Dear Sonke: 
Earlier this week, my quotes in a press account of a webinar in which I participated 
on the illegal wildlife trade gave rise to confusion regarding my attitude towards 
legal hunting in California. I’m writing to set the record straight. 
I fully support legal, well-regulated, science-based hunting in California. As you 
know, I’ve been an active hunter and fisherman most of my life and I recognize the 
vital contributions hunters make to wildlife conservation. Further, I believe that 
hunting in California is well managed by our Commission and the Department of 
Fish & Wildlife, using the best available science. I am unaware of any legal, 
managed hunting today in our state that contributes to the decline of our native 
wildlife. Both the Commission and the Department continually strive to improve 
our stewardship of wildlife in California. 
Thanks for the opportunity to clarify my position and clear up any 
misunderstandings that may have arisen as a result of my comments during the 
webinar earlier this week. I apologize for the confusion and hope that this letter 
serves to forestall any misinterpretation of my position on hunting. You are 
welcome to circulate this to anyone who may inquire. 
 Michael Sutton 

...  Commissioner Aaron Newman is accused of using illegal tags in 2009 and 2012 to avoid California limits on abalone and deer harvests.... four felonies ... 

Five men convicted and sentenced for deer poaching case February 9, 2014 California, Lake County News
...  using night vision capabilities, they had seen the occupants shoot two animals, get out of the vehicle and go to the dead animals, then get back into the vehicle and leave the area without retrieving the animals they had killed... two doe deer which had been shot and  left to waste. Hinchcliff said it is illegal to kill does during the deer season, only bucks can be taken ...

California Deer Winter, 2014, The Official Publication of the California Deer Association
... “Where are the deer?”  There were no signs of predators … There has been no development  … The feed was plentiful and in good condition.  The only thing that was lacking was deer sign...

Deer detection system outside Fort Jones being dismantled January 28, 2014 California, Siskiyou Daily News 
... ultimately, the project did not cover a long enough time period, particularly the establishment of a baseline... the system was funded by a $750,000 federal grant in the first phase and $350,000 came from the state of California for the second phase. He said that the price tag was one of the major points of contention for locals ...

Pasadena, Angeles Forest wildlife fawns over Jet Propulsion Laboratory grounds January 26, 2014 California, Pasadena Star-News 
... "We are experimenting with different kinds of landscape like sage and lavender that's not supposed to be tasty to them... "  Wildlife control came to a head in 2005 after the iron fence was installed between the facility and the surrounding Angeles National Forest to keep the deer from eating flowers ... It's been mostly effective .. 

Plumas National Forest - Game refuge burn continuing today January 24, 2014 California, Plumas County Newspapers 
... game refuge prescribed burn on Mt. Hough ... Fire gets rid of the dense, tough older vegetation and causes plants to sprout ... The California Deer Association and Mule Deer Foundation are partners in the project ...

Effect of California Drought on Wildlife January 22, 2014
...  the Mendocino National Forest. The entire forest is bone dry and streams that should be running with water at this time of the year are now dry. The same applies to the foliage. There is very little greenery anywhere in the forest. The result is that deer and other wild animals are going hungry and are migrating down to residential neighborhoods....

Why no deer hunting during rut in California? January 14, 2014 Willows Journal
... According to Game Species Conservation Program Manager Craig Stowers, seasons are set with certain harvest objectives in mind. Later in the season as the animals go into the rut (breeding period) they become more bold in their attempts to find a mate, and are thus easier to hunt. If the season was held during the rut, the hunter harvest success rate would be higher, and fewer hunters would be able to hunt before the harvest objectives were reached....

Deer-crash study has plan for Caltrans January 9, 2013 California, San Francisco Gate
... Caltrans should build deer-proof fences, wildlife tunnels and overpasses accessible to animals along a stretch of I-280 that is notorious for deer crossings that cause collisions of car and beast  ... study author Fraser Shilling ... at the UC Davis Road Ecology Center ... Shilling's study found that some deer do avoid traffic on the freeway...  But other deer have been slower to adapt....

     California’s migratory deer population is suffering from what wildlife experts call “hair loss” syndrome. However, the real problem appears to be from the infestation of non-native lice with symptoms that range from a scruffy looking hair coat to near complete baldness. Researchers are not sure how the lice arrived, but they do suspect it is having serious impacts to the state’s deer population. Wildlife biologists speculate that the deer spend so much time grooming that they become easy targets of prey for coyotes, mountain lions and other carnivores. This impacts the survival rate of fawns, which is less than half of what it should be. 

Participate in Formulating California's Wildlife Action Plan December, 2013 CDFW
     The Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) is in the process of producing its first strategic plan (Plan). The Plan (PDF) is still very much a work in progress and your comments would be most appreciated at this point in time. Your comments will help shape the final draft Plan, due out in February or March 2014. The Plan will be WCB’s guiding document as it seeks new and better ways to maximize the conservation impact of its investments over the next few years.
     We invite you to share your comments via online survey . You can also provide input using the comment card (PDF). Any comments you wish to provide would be appreciated by January 31, 2014.
     WCB is hosting three public workshops to discuss the draft Strategic Plan. Please join us for one of the following events (Agenda (PDF)):
Ontario: Tues, Jan 14, 2014, 7:00-9:00pm @ DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Ontario Airport, Strawberry Peak Room, 222 North Vineyard Avenue, Ontario, CA 91764
San Jose: Wed, Jan 15, 2014, 7:00-9:00pm @ Holiday Inn San Jose Airport, Salon H, 1350 North 1st Street, San Jose, CA 95112
Redding: Thurs, Jan 16, 2014, 7:00-9:00pm @ The McConnell Foundation, Headquarters Building, 800 Shasta View Drive, Redding, CA 96003
2013 Board Meetings
Monday, March 11, 2013 • Agenda (PDF)
Tuesday, June 4, 2013 • Agenda (PDF)
Monday, August 12, 2013 • WCB Strategic Planning Workshop • Agenda (PDF)
Wednesday, September 4, 2013 • Agenda (PDF)Briefing Materials (23 MB PDF)
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 • WCB Strategic Planning Workshop • Agenda (PDF)
Thursday, November 21, 2013 • Agenda (PDF)Briefing Materials (39 MB PDF)

      Thousands of deer were run out of their habitat, nestled high in the San Bernardino National Forest, by a human-related wildfire which scorched more than 27,000 acres. The Mountain Fire of July 2013 was the nation's top priority, as the magical art town of Idyllwild, home of the Idyllwild Arts Academy, The Jazz In The Pines Festival and home to many talented artists, was evacuated for nearly a week. After a team of more than 3,000 firefighters worked tirelessly to contain this devastating blaze, residents of Idyllwild and neighboring communities were permitted to safely return to their homes, unlike the area's deer population. Their fate is uncertain.

Study calls for 22-mile stretch of fences on I-280 to prevent deer crashes December 18, 2013 California, San Jose Mercury News 
... A 22-mile stretch of fences along both sides of Interstate 280 in San Mateo County would prevent dangerous and costly collisions between deer and cars, a UC-Davis study concludes... "You've got some significant wildlife habitat right next to where people are driving 70 to 80 miles per hour," Shilling said Tuesday.... Caltrans is reviewing the recommendations ... Read the full report [this link opens up a large PDF file]"  Interstate 280 Wildlife Connectivity Research Study: Findings and Recommendations

Can a Fence Along I-280 Prevent Deer-Vehicle Collisions? December 18, 2013 California, Belmont Patch
... Each year, 40-50 deer are hit by vehicles on Interstate 280 in San Mateo County ... The study identified three main wildlife-vehicle collision hot spots -- a mile stretch between Hillcrest Boulevard and one mile south of Trousdale Drive, the Bunker Hill Drive crossing, and a half-mile span north of Farm Hill Boulevard... 

UC proposes $4 million plan to prevent deer, car collisions December 18, 2013 California, Abc Local Web 
...  Professor Fraser Shilling... runs the Road Ecology Center at UC Davis ... with the study complete, they've proposed a solution -- an eight-foot fence on either side of the road that's designed to make deer cross under the freeway instead of over it... The study found deer prefer to cross under the freeway ... 

... Deer are migrating downward into the lower Sierra foothills because of sudden changes in the weather.  Last week’s cold storm buried much of their food supply in snow... “Simply slow down,” advised Foy.  “That’s the number one thing you can do for the benefit of the deer ...

Valley deer ranch finds its niche November 28, 2013 California, Abc Local Web
... Ron and Myra Kirk-Goode have been raising Fallow deer for over a quarter of a century at the Ta-Hoot Ranch... Ta-hoot is the word for deer...  The pens are located next to a busy highway but the deer are used to the constant noise...  "The rule is no names. Once you name them then it makes it very difficult and that means you're gonna be saving them." ...

A number of park visitors were harassing wildlife during Thanksgiving weekend in Yosemite. - December 3, 2013

Keeping hunters off property November 28, 2013 California,
... We recently had someone shoot at a six-point buck, wound it and screech away off the property. We called the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), who sent out a tracker. They followed the trail of blood but never found the wounded animal ... Hunters do not need permission to hunt on private property unless the land is under cultivation, enclosed by a fence, or posted in accordance with Fish and Game Code, section 2016...

Doe raise me: Fawn rescue saving baby deer  November 27, 2013 California,
... Fawn Rescue is one of only two services in all of Southern California that rescues orphaned fawns.  Their mission is to locate and foster the fawns after their parents are killed, but that mission is in jeopardy. They've had to leave their old facility, and need to raise funds to get into a new one...

Large tumors found on a deer in the Lakeport Area November 16, 2013 California, Lake County Record-Bee
... According to scientist Robert Keiffer of the University of California, Hopland Field Station, who studied a photo of the deer, the most likely cause of the tumors is a condition called papallomas or fibromas. Keiffer says the tumors are caused by a virus and in most cases the deer will develop an immunity ... 

Lawful hunters have forest rights, too November 13, 2013 California,  Altadenablog (blog)
...  Having hunted in the Altadena area for over 15 years, I have personal misgivings about certain events that have influenced the wildlife population, also.  The destruction of wildlife habitat over the years has been appalling.  The deer population is only a fraction of what it was before much of the residential construction along the foothills.  The razing of hills to build housing lots has decimated the fruit and black walnut trees we shared with the animals that used to populate the hillsides...

What constitutes 'wanton waste' when deer hunting? November 12, 2013 California, Corning Observer
...  Harvesting any deer and detaching or removing from the carcass only the head, hide, antlers or horns while leaving edible parts to needlessly go to waste, is deemed to be "wanton waste" ...

Oh deer! Wild animal wanders into Bakersfield backyard November 12, 2013 California,
....  the local Fish and Wildlife office, told Vereen to open the front gate of his home and let the animal exit on its own. ... At about 3:30 p.m. two people from Fish and Wildlife arrived at Vereen's home and cornered the deer. It ran, jumped the front fence and darted down South Milham Street ... 

Darting deer demands defensive driving November 8, 2013 California, The Union of Grass Valley
... October to December, when mating density intensifies, most deer become oblivious to traffic... November marks when the most deer-vehicle collisions occur in California ... California has the fortunate distinction of being among the five least likely states for deer-related accidents...

Deer-resistant plants aren't whole solution October 31, 2013 California, San Francisco Chronicle
... deer-resistant plants...  those that are poisonous or noxious to deer. These include milkweeds ... many common bulbs are poisonous ...  plants with a strong aroma, especially in the foliage. Thus, plants as diverse as lavender, rosemary ... plants which have tough, hairy or spiny foliage... includes shrubs with tougher leaves such as camellias and rhododendrons ...

Grannie's companions for a fall afternoon. October, 2013 Santa Monica Mountains State Park.

Deer rescued from canal October 31, 2013 California, 
KXTV News10Net ·
... Someone made the call about the struggling buck seen in the canal at Tributary Crossing Drive and Tributary Point Drive in Gold River ... the second or third time this year they've been called to rescue a deer in the canal...

Humboldt Botanical Garden, The Great Deer Roundup October 31, 2013 California, North Coast Journal
... "It is inevitable when a 45-acre area is enclosed by a new fence that a few deer are fenced in rather than out," a notice in the garden's quarterly newsletter confessed in January 2005. So wranglers were wanted ... Finally, under the direction of Fish and Game, the garden foundation authorized the building of a baited deer corral at the northeast end of the garden. It went up in 2007 ...

Car Safety Company Debuts Deer Detection System October 29, 2013 California, Santa Barbara Independent
... Autoliv Electronics Night Vision, an arm of an $8.6 billion automotive safety company that has designed and manufactured seatbelts and airbags since 1953. Today, the company is also building infrared systems to help drivers see better at night and avoid hitting people and animals on the road... a video display in the dashboard that pinpoints and highlights heat-emitting animals up to 160 yards ahead — drivers typically can’t see beyond 40 yards ...

Deer hunter fined $1050 for not tagging deer October 25, 2013 California, Napa Valley Register
... the wardens observed an ice chest with blood on it ... The two wardens looked inside the cooler, which they are allowed to do, and found deer meat ... Each tag cost about $30...

Wildlife center sends deer into the world October 24, 2013 California, Thousand Oaks Acorn
... After six months of hard work and care, the California Wildlife Center released its deer herd from facilities in the Santa Monica Mountains on Sept. 30... After many weeks of bottlefeeding, the young deer graduated to a diet more consistent with what they would find in the wild...

Officials urge drivers to stay alert to prevent collisions with deer October 23, 2013 California, Lake County News
...  Autumn is deer mating season – which means deer are on the move and less cautious about darting out into the road... “During these fall months, we see a spike in traffic collisions as a result of deer in the roadway,” said California Highway Patrol Captain Adam Jager ...

SPCA rescues trapped deer at Pacific Grove Middle School October 18, 2013 California, The Salinas Californian
... To ensure the frightened animal didn’t hurt himself, rescue workers sedated him. Once the deer was sleeping, the workers dug a hole and guided him out from beneath the fence.  The deer was released to an area where he could safely regain consciousness and return to the woods ...

Dead deer on the roads a reason for concern October 15, 2013 California, San Jose Mercury News
... I saw no fewer than four dead deer on the side of the road in a 24-hour period, on Ygnacio Valley Road and on Highway 24, on Sept. 21 and 22... Three looked to be young bucks. My husband's theory is that they are coming down off Mount Diablo because the fire destroyed their food sources. Whatever the reason, can we all slow down and keep our eyes on the road ...

... the six B zones are the best the state has to offer... Craig Stowers had to say. “For the foreseeable future, people can expect a significant cut in tags. The department is gearing up to start rehab work with the Bureau of Land Management but it will take a long, long time for X5b to be anything like it was before the fire.” ... Last year, 174,201 tags were sold to hopeful hunters and there were tens of thousands more available...

Berryessa wastewater ponds become deer traps October 7, 2013 California, Napa Valley Register
... Deer have been getting stuck in newly constructed wastewater ponds for a community on the south end of Lake Berryessa.  About 10 deer ... None of the deer have died. The district will put up deer fences ...

... California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers contacted more than 800 hunters while patrolling more than 14,000 square miles of Inyo and Mono counties during the deer season opener that started Sept. 20. During the opening weekend, 13 CDFW wildlife officers issued eight citations and 22 warnings.
     Violations included hunting deer without a valid deer tag in possession, having loaded guns in a vehicle on a public roadway, overlimits of trout, speeding and driving without insurance.  Officers also conducted a wildlife checkpoint operation to promote safety, education and compliance with law and regulations through education, preventative patrol and enforcement...

A young male California Black-tail deer comes for a drink of water. He is a "forked" spike buck--with really tiny "forks." He's either a very healthy one year old or a second year buck. Currently, he is following the resident doe who travels with her fawn from this year and her two yealings from last year. October, 2013

Sonoma County homeowners, gardeners fighting battle against hungry deer September 27, 2013 California, Santa Rosa Press Democrat
... With deer habitat shrinking as humans build homes and vineyards in what's known as the wildland-urban interface, the two species are competing for space, said Mary Sommer, acting deer coordinator for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife... The end of an unusually long, dry summer is the “worst time of year” for deer, who thrive on the protein-rich green sprouts that pop up in forests after the rain begins falling ...

     Starting in October, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will hold 11 public meetings on the update to the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP).
The scoping meetings will be held throughout the state and are intended to educate the public on the work being done to update the plan and to solicit input from the public and stakeholder groups. See below for dates and locations.
     Every 10 years, the SWAP is updated to ensure that California’s vulnerable plant and animal species are being preserved and protected. The SWAP examines the health of fish and wildlife populations and prescribes actions to conserve species and habitats before they become rare and more costly to protect. The plan also promotes wildlife conservation while furthering responsible use and enjoyment by an ever-increasing human population. [click on link above for meeting details]

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites nonprofit organizations to help wildlife by auctioning big game hunting license tags for the 2014-15 season. These tags will allow the highest bidder to hunt bighorn sheep, deer, elk and pronghorn antelope in California. Only 12 to 14 of these special fund-raising tags will be reserved for 501(c)(3) nonprofit groups to sell...

California deer face more challenges than ever September 21, 2013 California, San Francisco Gate, Tom Stienstra
... Deer numbers statewide are down 80 percent, a new invasive louse is causing deer baldness on the Peninsula and in parts of the Sierra foothills, and predation of fawns by mountain lions and bears is taking out a higher percentage of the herds than ever... The once-great deer herds of the Sierra Nevada, which migrated from the Sierra crest to wintering grounds in the foothills each fall, are gone. Heavy traffic on highways, new subdivisions ...

Stanislaus Forest may close to deer hunters September 20, 2013 California, .Manteca Bulletin 
...  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the frog and toad populations are declining and must be protected from non-native trout, from an African fungus, from recreational activities, and from climate change... The USFWS will accept comments through Monday, November 18, 2013. Submit your comments online by going to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: In the Search box.  Enter FWS–R8–ES–2012–0100 (the docket number for the proposed listing rule) or FWS–R8–ES–2012–0074 (the docket number for the proposed critical habitat rule).  Or send your written comments by U.S. Mail to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R8–ES–2012–0100 or FWS–R8–ES–2012–0074, Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM, Arlington, VA 22203

Watch Out For Wildlife! September 17, 2013 California, kbhr933
... In 2010, there were over 1,800 wildlife-vehicle collisions statewide ... Caltrans and CDFW offer a few tips for motorists:  Be particularly alert when driving in wildlife areas.
If you see an animal cross the road, know that another may be following...

Herd of deer in a California meadow near CA-130 at Lick Observatory - September 17, 2013

Hunting's opening day in Sierra set for Sept. 28 September 16, 2013 California, Manteca Bulletin
... Hunting in California is not nearly as productive as in many other states...  there are two main kinds of deer in California: Blacktails, and Mule Deer. Blacktails are darker in color than Mulies and smaller in size...  The dividing line between the two species is quite precise. Mulies like the open range broken by aspen groves, while Blacktail like the protection of the thicker forests...

Rim Fire Impacts Deer Hunting in Stanislaus National Forest September 13, 2013 California, CDFW News
... CDFW considered recommending an emergency closure of the hunt zone for species conservation. The department chose not to because deer are an adaptable species that evolved with wildfire in the Sierra Nevada, that deer for the most part, had the capability to escape the fire, that the majority of the deer population in the area are female (does) and are not hunted anyhow, and that part of the zone remains unaffected and could be hunted. Typically in the Sierra Nevada, deer populations respond favorably to large wildfires because of the abundant growth of new herbaceous and shrub vegetation that deer rely upon. CDFW is cautiously optimistic about deer response to this fire in the coming years, while recognizing other environmental factors may influence herd productivity ...

... The Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the land, and the nonprofit Friends of Lake Sonoma are in the first season of a program to control the deer population in the preserve by allowing a handful of hunters ... restricted to bows ...  will allow hunters to take a total of just six bucks from the preserve this season. That means only a handful of hunters will be allowed in, so anyone willing to fork over the $500 fee will be virtually alone on the land during the hunt... hunters can add additional days to their trip for $150 per day if they don't get a buck on the first day...

... U.S. Highway 101 near San Luis Obispo bisects a major wildlife corridor in the Los Padres National Forest. Caltrans installed electric mats at unfenced intersections to prevent animals from entering the roadway and ramps to allow wildlife to escape from the highway, if necessary... State Route 76 serves the North County inland areas of San Diego County. Five wildlife crossings and fencing were installed as part of the SR-76 Melrose to Mission Highway Improvement Project in 2012. A wildlife movement study is now underway to determine the effectiveness of the crossings and fencing... This month, Caltrans will begin Phase II of the Kyburz Wildlife Crossing Project on State Route 89 in Sierra County.  Fencing and other barriers will be erected to prevent wildlife from accessing the highway and encourage use of the undercrossing. In addition, monitoring cameras will be installed to evaluate the effectiveness of the fencing and barriers.

Archery Hunting from Boats September 5, 2013 California,
... Archery hunting from boats on Lake Shasta is a common practice and perfectly legal provided certain rules are followed. The lake is managed by the U.S. Forest Service and no hunting is allowed around boat ramps, marinas or campgrounds. Houseboats are considered dwellings (per FGC, section 3004), so hunting and discharging a firearm or bow within 150 yards is prohibited unless the hunters have specific permission from the boat’s occupants in advance....

... Deer thrive on the new growth, black bears forage happily on the rich source of berries ... every scientific study that has been conducted in large, intense fires in the Sierra Nevada has found that the big patches of snag forest habitat support levels of native biodiversity and total wildlife abundance that are equal to or (in most cases) higher than old-growth forest. This has been found in the Donner fire of 1960, the Manter and Storrie fires of 2000, the McNally fire of 2002, and the Moonlight fire of 2007 ...

Too cute to kill? US split on suburban deer August 30, 2013 California,
... Amid safety qualms about shooting rifles in residential areas, communities are getting creative and turning to bow hunting and even birth control to keep down deer numbers in towns and suburbs ... But critics argue that deer can die a slow and painful death and that arrows might go astray, endangering people and pets. "I think the question that should be asked is do we have to kill? Why can't we find better solutions that keep those deer alive?" said Anja Heister of In Defense of Animals... Her California-based group, together with others, took legal action against a decision to shoot deer in Rock Creek Park ...

     A mountain lion was caught on camera Thursday straddling a deer it had just killed on a highway in the mountains of Santa Monica, California...

Monitored deer are surviving devastation of Rim fire August 29, 2013 California, Lexington Herald Leader
... Three years ago, Nathan Graveline began following the deer herd in the Jawbone range of the Stanislaus National Forest ... They equip the deer with transmitters ... to better understand seasonal movement, the mortality rate among fawns and why some are losing their hair... Of the 49 fawns fitted ear tags last winter, 40 of them are alive. Of the nine that didn't make it, all perished before the fire ...

Firefighters rescue deer from canal August 18, 2013 California, Sacramento Bee
... A deer struggling to escape the waters of the Folsom South Canal ... She will be returned to the wild...

Search for news and information by keyword above or find links to state news stories organized by topic.

California data: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) estimated 489,000 deer in 2012, up from an estimate of 445,000 deer in 2011.  Our population model puts the number below 400,000. Historic and recent population estimates from CDFW do not track with the declining deer harvest data [see the discussion below or research]. Evidence suggests that contributing to the decline has been the long-term policy of the California Game Commission, essentially bucks only hunting, resulting in highly skewed deer population demographics, as might be found in a poorly managed game preserve.  The reported 2013 harvest was 13.8% of the peak harvest reported in 1956.  No other state in recent history has experienced this much of a decline. No other state has followed an essentially bucks only harvest nearly as long as California.  A 2009 study of deer in Siskiyou county found only 3 percent males. 
      The deer population is down from around 850,000 in 1990 and from the peak near 1960 of around 2 million.  During the 1800-1850's, the deer population is estimated by CDFW to have been roughly 800,000., although journals at the time describe abundant deer populations.   The population fell to about 300,000 during the 1850 to 1910 period, the historic record low, as a result of over hunting. California suspended deer hunting to preserve the herd in 1917 after the annual harvest fell to 8,500.  The 2011 reported harvest was about 10,900.  
     The mountain lion population is thought to have peaked in 1996 at about 6,000 and was guessed to be about 4,000 in 2010.  Estimated $400 million related to deer hunting in the state annually, but on a steady decline.

Useful Links:
California Roadkill Observation System Report what you see, the roadkill incidents are saved to a database that is mapped and used at U.C. Davis for Wildlife Research.
Wildlife Observer:  Cam-WON provides a service to operators of wildlife cameras to manage their camera network in a web-based environment enabling sharing of photos and data from their projects.
California Essential Habitat Connectivity, science and collaboration for connected wildlands.
- New Strategic Vision as California Fish and Game becomes California Fish and Wildlife
-  Wildlife Fawn Rescue of Sonoma County Wildcare. An Organization Devoted to Living Well with Wildlife in San Rafael, California 

Tweet on the twitter timeline below by using the hash tags #deer #california

Tweets About Deer in California.

Closure of California Deer Refuges to be considered by the legislature. The report, which was recently made public, is a result of public input and comments the department has gathered in regards to its proposal to eliminate the refuge status of 19 state game refuges, effectively opening those areas to hunting. A full copy of the report is available on the department's Website at 

CDFW Fish and Wildlife News

Tweets Related to California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Tweets about @CaliforniaDFW

The Decline of the California Deer Population
As habitat disappears, so does California's deer population April 14, 2012
... since 1990, California has lost nearly half its deer population, according to the state Department of Fish and Game... This forest icon is on the wane mainly for one simple reason: habitat loss... Deer require a particular type of forest habitat called "early seral." ... The natural sources of this deer food have been largely eliminated by a century of fire suppression in forests – the same problem that has caused forests to become overstocked with small, young trees that now pose an enormous fire risk. 

A paper describing how changing forest management practices have reduced deer habitat in California, CDFG, Habitat Guidelines for Mule Deer, 2007

You Wouldn't Know How Far The Deer Population in the State of California Has Fallen If You Relied on the Graphic on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Website 
The bottom part of the graph below (dark blue line) was taken from the CDFW website, the brown line is the estimate from our population model that takes alternative assumptions for the reporting rate and the sex of the deer harvest then takes weighted average of the estimate for each year and applies a two year moving average against the harvest data.  This estimate was presented to the Western Section of the Wildlife Society's meeting in 2014.  The CDFW graph significantly distorts the deer population trend.  Read the recently published peer-reviewed research paper [PDF] documenting this information.

Issues with California Deer Management
     The total buck harvest rose to 14,159 in 2013, the second year of increase after the steep decline of 2011 and a general downward trend from the early 1960's.. CDFW explains the 2011 decline as a result of the new tag sales system, Automated License Data System (ALDS) that was deployed in January, 2011, and a nearly 20 percent increase in non-reporting [California Big Game Hunting Digest 2012, page 21.  This information was removed from the web site in about February, 2013.  The harvest data for 2012 was not posted in time for public comment at the April Big Game Meeting to set tag quotas.  Harvest data is one of the primary inputs into the state's deer population model. [double click image to enlarge]

A long time observer of the California deer expresses concern about current management policies:
California Black-tailed Deer, where are they? September 15, 2012, Jeffrey Banke 
... As a photographer ... searching for black-tailed deer to photograph became more and more difficult to locate animals this year ... interviewing Sierra Pacific employees who are in the woods logging for months at a time who have seen very few deer confirm this observers own research. It would seem in conclusion, that if we do not have some radical changes in both the wildlife management approach by the DFG ... then we are on a continuing downward spiral...
[Jeff Banke is a freelance photographer who has been teaching Hunter Education for the California Dept. of Fish & Game for 18 years, is one of only 7 Master Instructors in the State.]

Problems with Maintaining a Low Buck-to-Doe Ratio 

A recent study in Spain concludes " There is published evidence for undesirable effects of biased population sex ratio and age structure in these red deer populations. Our results indicate that this type of management may be unsustainable and recommend that harvest on males in open estates should be reduced and that on females increased, in order to maintain a more balanced population structure that may allow sustainable population dynamics and the operation of natural evolutionary processes."

Hunters must adjust to Oct. doe season October 20, 2012 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette
... "The specific benefit to the deer herd is that it will compress the breeding season," Johansen explained. "When there are too many females in a deer population, the rut gets extended because it takes too much time for bucks to service all the does."  Instead of taking a couple of weeks, the rut can stretch to almost a month... an extended rut inevitably leads to an extended birthing season for fawns the following spring ... "When the fawn drop is spread out over a long period of time, newborn fawns become much more susceptible to predators," he said. "Coyotes and other predators have several weeks to pick fawns off when they're most helpless."

Officials hope for bigger early antlerless season October 19, 2013 West Virginia, Charleston Gazette
... By moving the bulk of the traditional antlerless season to October, DNR officials hoped to persuade hunters to take large numbers of female deer out of the population before the onset of the whitetail rut, or mating season.  Biologists believed that reducing the number of females would compress the rut into a shorter time frame, which in turn would shorten the birthing season and reduce the amount of predation on newborn fawns...

An ongoing study of deer in Wisconsin shows that predation is the second most cause of deer mortality after hunting, and "most predations occur within the first four to six weeks following birth"  Study continues to monitor cause of mortality among Wisconsin deer February 6, 2013 WDNR

Video discussing other problems as a result of low Buck-to-Doe Ratio

Reasons to Keep a Tight Buck-to-Doe Ratio

Age Matters September 23, 2012 Pennsylvania,
...Around 2000, state wildlife managers across the country began a shift in deer management from producing as many deer as possible to producing healthy deer and healthy forests. In an effort to improve the health of deer herds, managers such as Chris Rosenberry, chief deer biologist with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, have pushed for ways to protect young bucks, primarily through the use of antler restrictions. Herds are healthier, Rosenberry has said, when there are older bucks breeding does...

     In 2012, Utah dramatically reduced the number of tags:
...  “Although deer herd populations won’t see a big increase there will be an increase in buck-to-doe ratio,” Douglas said. “This means for hunters that the quality of deer will go up. We may not see these increases in the next year but in the future that quality will increase.” “Back in the 70s and 80s the number of tags given out was around 210,000. This year we have around 50,000 tags, 25 percent of that number. People have said for a long time that they would like better quality and fewer hunters.”

Fetal Surveys Showing Deer Management Isn't 'One Size Fits All July 5, 2013 Alabama, DeerandDeerHunting
...  If there is one buck for her, she’s going to be bred around the last week of January. But if there are 10 does to one buck, it might be February or maybe March before she gets bred.” ...  there a misconception about the number of does a single buck is able to breed during one estrus cycle... “He’s going to go with her wherever she goes until she is ready to breed ... “Some people are saying they’re going to save a buck to do most of their breeding for next year. But most studies show that a buck is only siring two to three fawns per year if they’re lucky.” ...

Predators and Prey—A Case of Imbalance, Mountain Lions and the North Kings Deer Herd "Forest Research West", June 1989
In the study area on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada, apparently mountain lion numbers have increased while deer numbers declined to about one-eighth their peak numbers in the 1950s.. In the study area on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada, apparently mountain lion numbers have increased while deer numbers declined to about one-eighth their peak numbers in the 1950s. Neal, along with George Steger (also with PSW), studied the California mule deer in the Sierra Nevada from 1970 to 1985 as part of an interagency effort to reverse the decline. This effort showed that the decline was primarily due to loss of fawns during the first 6-8 months of life.

deer frolicking like puppies 03-18-13, santa cruz, ca

Surfing deer spotted at Moss Landing beach - February 18, 2013

A Family of Deer entered the far side of Hopkins Marine Station Beach and froliced in the water as they made their way along the beach. The harbor seals who were positioned in the center of the beach are scared easily off the beach by pretty much anything. As the deer approach, the harbor seals flush into the water leaving only the young elephant seal on the beach. The Deer continue to frolic in the water for a while and then approach the elephant seal. After the elephant seal shows he is still King of the Hill on this beach, the Deer Family end their day of play and head home. - August, 2013