California Deer: A  California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) estimate of 460,000 in 2021, 458,000 deer in 2020; 459,450 in 2019; and, 470,000 in 2018A population estimate from the state of 532,621 in 2017, 621,082 in 2016 and 649,338 in 2015.    Down from a peak of about 2 million around 1960.  The population estimate had been in the mid 400,000 range from about 2006 to 2013.   Long term deer population estimate  Historical deer hunting data and news archive.

California Deer News

When It comes to wildlife crossings, California must catch up September 14, 2021 Capitol Weekly
...There were more than 25,000 reported vehicle collisions with large mammals like deer between 2015 to 2018, according to the UC Davis Road Ecology Center... The California Department of Fish and Wildlife published a report that identifies priority wildlife movement barrier locations throughout the state...

... The Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved an augmented grant of $20 million for construction of the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Overpass Crossing over U.S. Highway 101 in the Liberty Canyon area of Los Angeles County... 

Mountain Lion Dispatched After Attack Near Calabasas August 28, 2021 California, CDFW News
...The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) confirmed that a mountain lion shot and killed by a wildlife officer was the one responsible for injuring a five-year-old boy Thursday near Calabasas in Los Angeles County. The boy is in stable condition...

Information Received Regarding Gray Wolf in Kern County August 28, 2021 California, CDFW News
...Earlier this week, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) received trail camera video from May 15, 2021 showing a collared gray wolf in southwest Kern County...

  Deer Pierced By Arrow In Nevada City August 23, 2021 California, CBS Sacramento
.....  a deer with an arrow through its side Saturday night out her window—and two coyotes closing in...

... ll of us are seeing the results of the drought and many neighborhoods are seeing deer, turkeys, foxes, coyotes and crows, descending from the hills in search of water and food...

Zone A deer season opens Saturday August 10, 2021 California, Lake County Record-Bee
...  the county’s deer herd continues to slowly decline. The reason for this decline is a continuing loss of habitat and predation by coyotes and mountain lions ... The deer herd population reached its maximum number in the late 1950s when deer kills in the county often exceeded 2,000 bucks. Compare that to last year when fewer than 300 bucks were taken...

...From 1985 to 1991, a mule deer herd in California’s Sierra Nevada range plummeted from almost 6,000 animals to fewer than 1,000. Fawns died...The cause? Drought...  states across the Southwest in 2020 were either the driest (Utah and Nevada) or second driest they’ve been since records began in 1895,..

... Prescribed burns are one of the essential tools of modern fire prevention, and researchers at the Berkeley forest have spent decades experimenting with them ... setting intentional fires frequently. Some fires cleared out underbrush so deer and other animals could move freely...

No Time To Waste: Keep CWD Away July 23, 2021 California, CDFW
... “Our big game hunters have been incredible partners in this effort and should be proud,” said Dr. Brandon Munk, CDFW wildlife veterinarian. “The potential for this deadly disease to spread to California remains very real. We all need to remain vigilant and adhere to CWD best practices. That includes testing harvested animals, following safety recommendations when cleaning and handling game, knowing and abiding by state regulations when transporting harvested deer or elk meat into California from out of state.” ...

... These large plastic or aluminum water collection devices – 240 of them – are scattered throughout the Klamath and Shasta-Trinity national forests in Siskiyou County.... slightly below ground level ... $5,000 to repair guzzlers and pay for the fuel necessary for water trucks  ...

... California’s largest urban area state park is set to become even bigger... The money came from California’s Wildlife Conservation Board, which provided around $3 million from a fund designated to conserve deer and mountain lion habitats...

... lab determined that the meat came from eight separate deer, seven of them does ...  wasted meat from some of the carcasses. He carved off the "good cuts," Naylor said. "The rest were just dumped." ...

AHD, Disease outbreak found in deer in counties including Kern July 13, 2021 California, KGET.com
... outbreaks of adenovirus hemorrhagic disease ... Anyone who sees a deer with symptoms including foaming at the mouth, diarrhea, regurgitation or seizures is asked to submit a report to the department here....

... outbreaks of adenovirus hemorrhagic disease (AHD) and is monitoring deer mortality in their natural habitats and at fawn rehabilitation facilities. The deaths have occurred primarily in fawns and juvenile deer, but have also been identified in adult deer. Outbreaks have been confirmed in Napa, Nevada and Kern counties with suspected cases in other counties. State wildlife officials believe AHD may be widespread in California this year..,

This video provides viewers with four proven strategies for protecting gardens and landscapes from deer damage. - July 6, 2021


... Despite its environmentally-aware reputation, the Golden State lags in building these crossings. The Liberty Canyon overpass would be California’s first bridge on the state highway system designed specifically for fostering wildlife connectivity...

Flurry of mountain lion sightings in Petaluma neighborhoods July 1, 2021 California, KTVU San Francisco
... They may be wandering further than usual due to the drought and a shrinking deer population... "It's pretty unusual for them to show themselves, they're pretty sneaky,"...

... No deer survives being impaled,” said Dave Cook, a fawn rehabber with Sierra Wildlife Rescue.  Many of the babies Cook helps have been orphaned after their mom tried to jump over a spiked fence but didn’t make it all the way... immediately impaled and then kicks and screams and rips its stomach open ...

Trapped and impaled with no chance of survival, dozens of deer are being killed by a common type of backyard fencing in the Sacramento region every year. - June 8, 2021 California


...  The crossing, expected to be the largest of its kind in the world, will provide a connection between the small population of mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains and the larger and genetically diverse populations to the north...

...He’s the second documented wolf to do so this year, wandering hundreds of miles south before arriving in northeastern Siskiyou County on May 4. Though his pack of origin remains unknown,.,

... tags allow hunters to take any legal buck by any legal means anywhere in the state beginning July 10, 2021, through the end of the year... In 2019, Golden Opportunity tags brought an average price of $48,200 each...

Mule Deer Migrations and Highway Underpass Usage in California 2021, The Journal of Wildlife Management 
... Overall, our study indicated that although underpasses can provide safe passage for migratory deer decades (>40 yr) after their construction, deteriorating infrastructure such as fencing and gates can lead to wildlife mortalities on highways near underpasses ...

... Adult female deer often stash their fawns in tall grass or brush for many hours while they are out foraging for food.  “It is a very common mistake to believe a fawn has been abandoned when it’s found alone, even if the mother has not been seen in the area for a long period of time,” ..,

...  the wardens said they found enough evidence the men were hunting deer using bait... failure to report harvested deer as required by law, intentionally misrepresenting the location of their kills, and trespassing... 

Horses and deer April 1 2021 California, AGInfo Ag Information Network Of The West
... they studied deer and wild horses in the mountains of California and northern Nevada border. And they found that deer and wild horses are commensal. That means that they can share the same division and they'll have a one percent grazing overlap...

...New research published in Ecosphere has found that black-tailed deer in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California are spending more time in the forest areas closer to human habitation... not due to tastier or better quality plants ...because pumas are afraid of the nearby humans and so they don’t like going into those areas...

California grasses are perfect choice for our landscapes March 19, 2021 The Union of Grass Valley
... all grasses, deer won’t bother them... California fescue is native to our area and much of northern California...

Bills Seek to Conserve Public Lands and Rivers Across California March 3 2021 California, The Pew Charitable Trusts
... The Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act would expand the existing area to better protect open space for local communities and maintain a vital wildlife corridor for mountain lions, bobcats, deer, and many other species...

...  The Conservation Fund bought the ranch for $8 million in May 2020... “the land is full of wildlife. It’s been nice and quiet out there for a long time, with birds using the lake, deer everywhere” and signs of all kinds of other creatures...

... The local deer herd numbers are in decline. There used to be tens of thousands in what's known as the Interstate Deer Herd. Just a couple of years ago they counted under 5,000...

... wildlife biologists at the University of California, Berkeley, combined GPS location data of tagged mule deer and pronghorn with satellite imagery of fences to find out just how often these animals encounter fences ... seeing such frequent encounters, 40% of which result in a failure to cross, is kind of mind-blowing ...

...in the year following a controlled burn in grassland or oak savannah, an increase in the presence of deer is commonly noted due to improved forage quality...

... He’s been roaming neighborhoods around Lake Natoma since the summer, but rescuers finally tracked him down a few days before Christmas...

Ishi Wilderness Is a Portal Into the Indigenous History of California December 27, 2020 California, Sierra Magazine
... The Tehama deer—the largest migratory deer herd in California, some 20,000 strong—still find a home there... Ishi was very likely the last uncontacted Indigenous person in North America ... his "surrender" ...  represented the final encounter between intact Paleolithic culture and industrial society on this continent...

... The Indigenous Peoples Burn Network focused on a single goal: setting forests on fire.... [ancestors] burned young trees and brush to create and maintain meadows that would attract deer and elk... As these flames ceased, a new kind of forest emerged: a nearly fire-free ecosystem that was unlike anything that had existed since the end of the Ice Age...

Elk in Tehachapi: a big cow herd at rest December 14, 2020 California, Tehachapi News
... The rarest are Tule Elk (Cervus canadensis nannodes), which are native to the Tehachapi Mountains and were hunted by Nuwä (Kawaiisu or Paiute) Indian people. While they were reduced to a single pair of elk by 1875, they managed to survive and reproduce and there are now more than 4,000 Tule Elk in the state..,

... an adolescent deer in Kernville with orange plastic construction fencing stuck around its neck and front leg ..."That kind of fencing can cause strangulation,"  ... took the deer down with the tranquilizer gun....

CA Rules to Save Bees From Spooky Pesticides Need More Work October 27, 2020 California, Natural Resources Defense Council
... restrictions to protect bees, birds, fish, and water supplies from neurotoxic neonicotinoid insecticides (AKA, “neonics”) ... massive losses of honey bees threatening food security and agricultural economies, dramatic collapses of bird (see here and here) and fish populations, birth defects in white-tailed deer, and soil and water contamination from coast to coast...

... By agreeing not to subdivide and develop the ranch, the Hunewills are preserving a critical migration route and securing habitat for a variety of wide-ranging wildlife such as sage-grouse, black bear, American badger, and mule deer...

Here is what state is doing to stop CWD in California's elk, deer October 4, 2020 Redding Record Searchlight
... a goal of testing 600 cervids statewide during this year’s hunting seasons as a step toward increasing surveillance to around 2,000 animals per year in the future.  CDFW has been testing for CWD since 1999, averaging about 300 tests annually ...

Bay Area Wildfires Chase Wildlife Out of Usual Habitats September 17, 2020 California, NBC Connecticut
... park rangers say they've seen larger herds of deer as well as turkeys searching for new places to live ...

... "If the park service refuses to care for the animals that they are mandated by law to preserve, then others have to step in," said Fleur Dawes ...  the Center for Biological Diversity, urged the park service to provide water to the elk and remove an eight-foot high wire fence that runs across the peninsula, preventing the free movement of the elk... "That’s a total violation of working within the realm of the national parks," [National Park Service wildlife ecologist Dave Press] ...

CWC's Patient of the Week: Mule deer fawn August 5, 2020 California, The Malibu Surfside News
... Deer are prone to a condition called capture myopathy, which is caused by stress when they are handled or trapped by people or predators. Extreme overexertion and strain of the nervous system can lead to muscular breakdown... Once it occurs, rehabilitators can only provide supportive care ... Staff tried hand-feeding the deer wild grape leaves ...

... an outbreak of adenovirus hemorrhagic disease... Sick animals may have excessive salivation such as drooling or foaming at the mouth, diarrhea, regurgitation or seizures. They often seek water ... The last large outbreak in California was in 1993 and 1994, when thousands grew sick and died in 17 California counties...

Patient of the week: Mule deer fawns July 22, 2020 California, The Malibu Surfside News
... California Wildlife Center is caring for five orphaned mule deer fawns... When the deer first arrive, they are bottle-fed goat's milk because it is gentle on the stomach. They are slowly transitioned to a milk replacement formula specific to their species... All five deer had to be treated for a viral infection ...

... two strangers on their property who said their unleashed dog had pursued a fawn there ... After requesting that the men leave, the homeowners found the injured fawn trying to conceal itself under a shrub. Its back legs appeared to be broken and it was unable to stand...

Black-tailed deer ‘slightly overabundant’ in Marin County, study finds June 19, 2020 California, Marin Independent Journal
... survey of Marin County’s black-tailed deer found the local population is slightly overabundant, but coyotes may be playing a role in keeping the population in check... The study, published this year in The Journal of Wildlife Management ...

Elk Hoof Disease Detected in Del Norte County Herd, May 7, 2020 California, CDFW News
... The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has detected the state’s first cases of a potentially crippling hoof disease in two Roosevelt elk from a resident herd in Del Norte County.  Treponeme-associated hoof disease (TAHD) – commonly referred to as “elk hoof disease” – can cause deformed, overgrown and otherwise damaged hooves. The lesions and resulting deformities are painful and lead to limping, lameness and even death as observed in other states...

California Wildlife Officials to Study Protections For Mountain Lions April 16, 2020 California, Courthouse News Service
... Nearly a year after conservation groups petitioned to extend wildlife protections to imperiled California mountain lions, a state wildlife commission voted unanimously Thursday to initiate a study to determine whether the lions should be protected under the California Endangered Species Act... The California Department of Fish and Wildlife estimated in 1984 between 4,000 and 6,000 mountain lions ..,

Tuleyome Tales: Recovering from a wildfire April 8, 2020 California, Davis Enterprise
... In June 2018, the Pawnee Fire burned more than 15,000 acres in Lake County ... To track the return of fauna, 12 game cameras were purchased ...  a deer was not captured for a couple of months, after some rain encouraged plant regeneration. Initial captures of deer were limited to a single deer per image but soon pairs and trios were captured...

Overabundance of Black‐Tailed Deer in Urbanized Coastal California  BJ Furnas, RH Landers, RG Paiste, BN Sacks - The Journal of Wildlife Management, 2020
...  Our estimate of average deer density was 1.7–6.1 times higher than published density estimates for deer from elsewhere in California and on the low end of densities reported for mule and white‐tailed (O. virginianus) deer in regions where they routinely cause a nuisance to humans. High black‐tailed deer densities in Marin County may be partially attributed to a paucity of large predators, but more investigation is warranted to evaluate the effects of a recent increase in coyotes (Canis latrans) on the deer population. Analyses of
highway road kill rates and citizen science surveys suggest that the deer population in Marin County has been stable over the past 10 years...

... Despite their massive size and majestic appearance, Roosevelt elk have proved an elusive research subject because of the dense forests they inhabit... have affixed GPS tracking collars on 24 cow Roosevelt elk in Humboldt and Del Norte counties to monitor their movement and migration...

... On Feb. 21, 2020, Woltering pled no contest in El Dorado Superior Court to one misdemeanor count of taking deer over bait. Because the buck was of “trophy” size, the penalties for the crime were enhanced. Woltering will serve three years’ probation, during which time he will be prohibited from hunting. He stipulated to the forfeiture of all seized items and paid a fine of $17,500..,

...  Our results indicated, respectively, that relative to the 10 states where puma are hunted, California had 1) similar puma densities, 2) the 3rd lowest per capita problematic puma-human encounters, 3) similar per capita loss of cattle (P = 0.13) and a significantly lower (t = 5.7, P < 0.001) per capita loss of sheep, and 4) similar average deer densities while changes in annual deer populations correlated with changes in other states (F = 95.4, P < 0.001, R2 = 0.68). In sum, our analysis of the records obtained from state and federal wildlife agencies found no evidence that sport hunting of pumas has produced the management outcomes sought by wildlife managers aside from providing a sport hunting opportunity...

California has fewer hunters than ever. Would waiving state fees revive the practice? February 20, 2020 Sacramento Bee
... Gallagher is trying to reverse a downward trend in hunting in the Golden State. In 1979, the state issued more than 530,000 hunting licenses; that number gradually declined over the decades, and in 2019, the state issued just over 244,000 licenses...

California man killed a trophy deer on his rural property. Now he’s facing a huge penalty February 6, 2020 Sacramento Bee
... will pay a $20,000 fine ... The hefty fine is one of the first under a law passed in 2017 ...



California data:  An estimate from the state of 460,000 deer in 2021, 458,00 blacktail and mule deer in 2020; 459,450 in 2019; and 470,000 in 2018.  Another estimate from the state of 533,000 in 2018.  The California Department of Fish and Wildlife's (CDFW) current estimate of 532,621 for 2017, 621,082 in 2016, 649,338 in 2015 and 511,871 in 2014 is not consistent with previous reported estimates.  For example, there was previously an estimated 512,000 deer in 2015 up from 443,289 deer in 2014.   Both estimates, but most dramatically the current estimate, proposes that the deer population increased dramatically during one of the worst droughts in California history.  Water availability is highly correlated with fawn production.  The Nevada deer population declined during this period.  CDFW acknowledges that a firm population number does not exist.
     In 2019, blacktails were steady in suburban and foothill areas, and in Central valley river corridors, but migratory deer herds in the east are declining.  A picture taken of a tagged doe in 2019 was of a deer estimated to be 14 years old.
     The drought had lasted for four years by deer season in 2016, with some check stations reporting very low deer taken.  The long-term declining deer population contributed to the controversy around the proposed reintroduction of wolves in 2016.  Hunting pressure was high in 2016 and 2017 with 176,000 deer tags issued.  A severe winter killed many deer in 2016-17 and floods in 2017 decimated deer herds along the Sacramento River.  Twice the normal rain in 2018 provided forage for deer.
     California is providing different estimates to the professional wildlife group, WAFWA, 450,000 to 550,00 in 2016.  For 2015 that CDFW presented to WAFWA was a range of 450,000 to 550,00, better reflecting the estimation reliability.   Our population model puts the population in the low 400,000 range for 2013 and 2014, down from the peak of about 2 million around 1960.  See a Long term deer population estimate for information on reasons for the decline and an analysis of problems with the California deer population data.  
    Most of the mule deer are in the 17 X Zones which are less than 20 percent of the state.
     Chronic Wasting Disease  Not reported yet in California.  Increased sampling in 2019.  
     Adenovirus Hemorrhagic Disease (AHD) was first discovered first in California in 1993.  An outbreak reported in 2021.
     Elk, an estimated 13,000 in 2017 and 2018, less than 10,000 in 2015.  A 2018 CDFW estimate puts the numbers at  5,700 Roosevelt Elk, 1,500 Rocky Mountain Elk, and 5,700 Yule Elk.  An estimate of more than 4,000 Tule Elk in 2020.   Tule elk once roamed in large herds near the Sierra Nevada mountains, reduced to a single pair of by 1875.  There were once more than 500,000 elk in California, by 1972 only a few of the smaller species remained.  With recovery effort, there about 1,600 in the 1960's.
     Mountain lion population, estimated at around 4,000 to 6,000 in 2017 and 2018 by CDFW.  Estimated at 3,100 by mountainlion.org in 2015, thought to have recently peaked around 1996 at about 6,000 and was guessed to be about 4,000 in 2010, an estimate of 3,000 to 5,000 in 2013  About 600 in 1967, 2,400 in 1972.  at least 5,100 in the late 1980s, from 4,000 to 6,000 in 1984About 2,400 in 1972 up from 600 in 1967. California hunters collected from $20 to $60 each for killing 12,461 mountain lions from 1907 to 1963..  Hunting lions was banned in 1990.  More info
     Wolves, an estimated seven to ten wolves in 2019, six wolves in mid-2017, two adults and four pups.  The draft plan for wolves in California.  A wolf migrated into Northern California from Oregon in 2021.

     California is home to 197 mammal species, 433 species of birds, 84 reptiles, 67 species of freshwater fish and 5,047 native plants. It has more species than any other state. CDFW

Report poaching:  Contact the 24-hour CalTIP hotline (888-334-2258) or send an anonymous text tip to 847411 (tip411). In the message, just text CALTIP followed by a space and then the information.

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.        
 -  Wildlife Fawn Rescue of Sonoma County Wildcare. An Organization Devoted to Living Well with Wildlife in San Rafael, California - Sierra Wild Life Rescue, Placerville   - Wildlife Fawn Rescue, Kenwood  -  Kindred Spirits Fawn, Loomis

Closure of California Deer Refuges:  The report 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.  Given the long-term state policy of hunting bucks, not does, the sex and age structure of the wild deer in California is highly skewed.  Natural sex and age ratios are maintained in California in these refuges and other areas of California not open to hunting.  Refuges were originally created to maintain the deer population.