California Deer News

Deer fence on I-280 being reviewed December 20, 2014 California, Silicon Valley
... a study from UC Davis that came out last year that suggested spending $4 million to put up fences along the most impacted stretches and force the deer to go under the freeway... This should be a no-brainer. Caltrans has been looking at the report but has not yet decided what to do...

California joins other states in embracing the rodent December 20, 2014 California, Lake County Record Bee 
... The rodents are known as ecosystem engineers. And they once populated most of California (and the Bay Area) until fur traders nearly wiped them out in the 19th century ... Their dams raise water tables, nourishing shrubbery alongside streams that stabilize eroding banks and add habitat for birds and deer...

Amador County Man Sentenced for Poaching December 18, 2014 California, CDFW News
... Gary Michael Creason Jr., age 24, was fined $19,520 for activities involving the take of trophy deer out of season, among other charges. Trophy bucks are described as male deer with very large antlers.  Acting on a tip, wildlife officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) contacted Creason at his home in July 2013, where they found him in possession of several sets of trophy deer antlers and deer meat...

Estimating sex‐specific abundance in fawning areas of a high‐density Columbian black‐tailed deer population using fecal DNA ZT Lounsberry, TD Forrester, MT Olegario, JL Brazeal… - The Journal of Wildlife …, 2014, California
... The recent development of fecal-genetic capture-mark-recapture (CMR) methods has increased the feasibility of estimating abundance of forest-dwelling ungulates that are difficult to survey using visual methods. Unless genetic markers differentiating sex are incorporated into such studies, however, genetic CMR approaches risk missing sex-specific differences in population trends.... Incorporating sex and individual markers into a single assay provided a cost-effective means of applying CMR estimation based on fecal DNA to a high-density ungulate population in a forested ecosystem and emphasized the importance of explicitly modeling sex in abundance estimation.

Deer are peaceful, but we kill them anyway December 10, 2014 California, San Francisco Gate ·
... we “cull” them, which is a nice way of saying we shoot them down and watch them bleed. In the ’60s, there were about 2 million deer in California. Now, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, there are 445,000. Deer in this state also have an invasive louse that leads to balding. Predation of fawns by mountain lions and bears has increased...

Animal deaths spike on Sierra roads as drought hits habitat December 9, 2014 California, San Francisco Chronicle
 ... The carnage is happening, wildlife managers say, because fires and drought have left huge swaths of the mountains bare, forcing large animals to roam farther and cross more roadways to find decent habitat...

 ... As California finally experiences the arrival of a rain-bearing Pineapple Express this week, two climate scientists have shown that the drought of 2012-2014 has been the worst in 1,200 years. [Deer and other wildlife have struggled to survive] ...

Inyo County man arrested, charged with poaching deer December 5, 2014 California, Inyo Registe
... California Department of Fish and Wildlife officers have arrested a suspected poacher in Inyo County for illegally killing a trophy 3X3 deer in the G-3 zone – an area highly valued by hunters for its quality of deer and the limited number of tags issued for it each year...

CDFW Plans Deer Hunter Opinion Survey December 3, 2014 California, CDFW News
... . To assist with this planning effort, CDFW has selected Responsive Management, a company specializing in natural resource-related public opinion surveys, to conduct a deer hunter opinion survey.  Responsive Management will begin contacting randomly selected deer hunters by telephone in mid-December. Survey participants will be asked a series of deer hunting and deer management-related questions. Survey results will be used to help CDFW assess and guide the future of its deer management program and identify management strategies....

... Caltrans and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) are cautioning motorists of an unusually high number of collisions between drivers and wildlife on mountain highways this autumn. The increase has been particularly notable on Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 50 in Placer and El Dorado counties.  “There were an unprecedented 23 incidents involving large animals on Highway 50 and I-80 in just six days from Nov. 14-19,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “Drivers need to use caution and watch out for wildlife as they travel through the Sierras and other rural areas.” ... “Wildlife corridors” constructed under some highways have helped reduce wildlife-related incidents. ...

A deer got its leg trapped in between two planks of wood on a banked turn feature on the "Gypsie" trail at North Star ski resort. The deer turned out to be ok and was set free. We named the deer Gypsie. - November 30, 2014


Stay alert to avoid hitting deer November 21, 2014 California, The Salinas Californian 
... The SPCA for Monterey County ... has responded to 37 reports of deer being hit by cars, Fenton said.  “Almost all were either dead on arrival or needing to be humanely immediately euthanized,” ...

Update on Progress of Deer Sterilization Program at the Villages in San Jose, California November 19, 2014 
     In 2007, the Villages, a gated community with semi-permeable fencing, proposed thinning their deer herd by usiing archers.  Protests prevented the plan from going ahead.  After discussions, it was agreed that the company White Buffalo would tranquilize the does and perform ovariectomies.  The process began at the end of January, 2013, and was completed in early February.  Below is a recent update on the success of this project.  Based on a prelliminary population estimate and two follow up estimates, there has been about a 20 percent reduction in the deer population in the first year with another reduction of about 20 percent in the second year based on an estimate done in November, 2014 -- about a 40 percent reduction in the population over less than two years.  The full report is available here or at the link above.

In the city of Moraga, California, two young bucks had their antlers locked together; one had died. The other one was panicked and exhausted. It turned out that they had rope tightly wound around their antlers. How they got into this predicament is a mystery. Contra Costa County Animal Services officers arrived and were able to cut the rope, freeing the surviving buck. - November 18, 2014



Anaheim, Throat slitting of trapped deer was not a crime November 16, 2014 California, Examiner
..... a veterinarian... offered to use a “euthanizing solution” in her possession to painlessly end the deer’s life. The officers declined, asked her to leave, and then slit the deer’s throat... The Orange County District Attorney’s office has decided it will not be pressing charges ..
... a deer hanging upside down from a fence... impaled its left hind leg ...  veterinarian Kathleen Johnson ... offered her abilities to provide a painless solution for the deer... After slitting the animal's throat the officers also used the knife to cut the deer's leg ...
... Veterinarian Kathleen Johnson ... found a deer "hanging upside down frantic." It's leg impaled on a fence in Anaheim Hills... "The second officer that was there pulled out a knife and was talking to the first one about where to cut the leg off to get it down from the fence," ...  the veterinarians who performed the necropsy called what the officers did "a barbaric and improper method of euthanasia," ...

California Drought Drives Wildlife Into Backyards November 14, 2014 NBC Dallas-Fort Worth 5
... in the parched state's fourth consecutive dry year ... "These are people that are seeing deer in their yards and they hadn't seen deer in their yards…they have a food source or a water source." ...

Old animal theme parks November 11, 2014 California, Los Angeles Times
...  Buena Park, Closed: 1975.  This Japanese-themed park was most famous for the deer that roamed around freely. There were also snowy pigeons, doves, black swans, and brown bears. ... many of the deer were euthanized...

Deer draw sportsmen to La Cañada area November 7, 2014 California,  Valley Sun
... La Cañada’s municipal code prohibits people from possessing guns or other devices capable of penetrating human skin on any trails... I knew they were deer hunters ... hunting is legal in some parts of the Angeles National Forest, using private property and public trails to access those areas isn’t ...

Deer populations continu decline November 3, 2014 California, Siskiyou Daily
... A dramatic decline in the Siskiyou County deer populations over two decades has triggered concern and a proposed management plan ... (Study) increasing trends in selenium deficiency and predator impacts are of interest ... Another topic ... The effect on population dynamics from The annual removal of males from hunting ...



     According to the California Roadkill Observation Systems, CROS,the rate of deer deaths from collisions with vehicles is much higher this year than in the last 5 years.
Volunteer observers report carcasses that they see on or near roads on the CROS website. The system is the largest of its kind in the world (volunteer-science) and second only to a government-run system in Sweden for displaying wildlife-vehicle-collisions. The website has been operating since 2009, has received over 28,000 observations and has over 1,000 registered users. [Photograph of deer on I-280 by Kathryn Harrold] ...

... in a memo from Yosemite National Park that reported that 25 bears have been hit by cars this year in the park. That’s one for every week of summer. In addition, about 10,000 deer a year are hit and killed on California roadways...

... . "When you restore the balance of an ecosystem by restoring the top predator, the wolf in this case, it brings the population of prey species like elk and deer back into better balance with the ecosystem," [the California deer population has fallen by about 80 percent since its peak in the early 1960s, the most dramatic decline of any state ... Long Term trends for California deer]

Collision course: car accidents with deer spike during migration season October 21, 2014 California, Siskiyou Daily News
... Highway 3 in Scott Valley ... $1 million was put into a roadside animal detection system....  four signs that were supposed to warn drivers when something triggered the sensors. The system proved to be a bust, and by the end of January all radar equipment, video cameras, warning signs and data collection devices were removed...

...  San Mateo County farmer John Muller ...  the lack of rain made nearby hills barren and coastal deer were starving and looking for feed ...

... There is an astonishingly large deer population in this area... We often see up to eight deer at a time on our 1/4 acre property. Four of the deer spend enough time in our yard that we recognize them on sight: two mother deer and their yearlings...

Climatic and density influences on recruitment in an irruptive population of Roosevelt elk HD Starns, MA Ricca, A Duarte, FW Weckerly - Journal of Mammalogy, 2014
... . Using an 18-year time series of population abundances of Roosevelt elk  inhabiting Redwood National Park in northwestern California we assessed the influence of population size and climatic variation on elk recruitment ... density-dependent recruitment differed between when the population was declining and when the population increased and then stabilized at an abundance lower than at the start of the decline...

Alturas, A deer invasion are challenges for North State towns October 13, 2014 California, Sacramento Bee
... City yards offer a safe haven where deer are protected from predators, said Andrew Hughan, a department spokesman... “I’d hate to think we’d have to shoot them all.” ... said Alturas Mayor John Dederick...

G&F Deer Forecast October, 2014
... The tag quota for the B zones was lowered from 55,000 to 35,000 a couple years ago, but they are still sold on a first-come, first-served basis. The demand does not exceed the supply by much, so you can get a B tag if you don’t wait until the last minute to put in for it...

These were at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael... Apparently, they can read signs! - October 11, 2014



Buck entangled in electric net fencing September 30, 2014 California, Wildlife Emergency Services
... rescue organizations like ours must notify CDFW and receive authorization before responding to emergencies involving big game species... The deer was an adult male and presumably "in rut"... It took nearly 4 minutes to clear the antlers... Immediately, the buck spun right around for a quick charge. The herding boards fended off his aggression until he collected his wits and headed off into the woods.

Deer Goes for Swim in Backyard Pool at Encino Home September 27, 2014 California, ktla.com 
... Its antlers became tangled in the pool’s cover ... The injured buck briefly struggled at the edge of the pool before managing to climb out. ...
     Little Deer Gets Into Big Trouble In Encino Swimming Pool September 27, 2014 California, CBS Local Media-Los Angeles
... Animal Control officers caught up with the little buck and tranquilized him.
They told the homeowner they would give the deer a thorough check-up and then take him back into the wild ...


   The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is asking hunters to help prevent the introduction of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) into California. CWD is a neurologic disease that is fatal to deer, elk and moose.  Out-of-state big game hunters should review CDFW’s hunting regulations regarding interstate transport of deer and elk before bringing game meat across state lines.www.fgc.ca.gov/public/notices/declaration.aspx.
     “If an infected carcass is transported into California and is improperly disposed of in deer or elk habitat, it could result in infection of California cervids,” said CDFW Senior Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Ben Gonzales. “If it enters the state, CWD has the potential to devastate our cervid populations and severely impact deer and elk hunting in California.” ...

B-zone deer population holding steady September 17, 2014 California, Lake County Record Bee 
... The hunter success rate in 2013 for the B zones was 23 percent. Greg Giusti of Kelseyville hunted during the bow season in the B zone at Klamath Mountains and his group counted a total of 557 deer, 24 being legal bucks forked horn or better, during a four-day period.  They also counted 60 spike bucks. [About 15% bucks, 4% mature bucks, not a sustainable demographic] ...

Fall General Hunting Seasons Opening Soon September 15, 2014 California, CDFW News
... The upcoming California general deer and bear seasons are some of the most popular hunting opportunities in the state... CDFW also offers hunts on private lands through its SHARE Program and Private Lands Management Program. ... 2014 Deer Seasons ...

... Caltrans has applied for $2 million in federal funding for the environmental and engineering design phases of a future wildlife crossing over U.S. Highway 101 at Liberty Canyon Road in Agoura Hills. In the interim, Caltrans is providing wildlife fencing in Liberty Canyon to prevent wildlife mortalities along the freeway until a permanent structure can be built. The highway presents an impassible barrier for wildlife migrating into or out of the Santa Monica Mountains.  A new wildlife crossing promises to provide an improved habitat connection that will sustain and improve the genetic diversity of wildlife in the area...

... We analyzed 27 years of mule deer harvest data from Camp Pendleton, California... we determined that eviscerated body mass of southern mule deer ... was affected by precipitation and relative abundance. We also found that deer were able to recover from periods of poor nutrition and overcome cohort effects by 2.5 years of age, which has not been demonstrated in other ungulate populations. This study demonstrates that body mass can be used as a tool to assess the nutritional state of a population ...

CDFW to Hold Public Outreach Meeting Regarding Type A and B Wildlife Areas September 9, 2014 California, CDFW News
     The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Bay Delta Region will hold a public meeting to discuss the impacts of the statewide drought on Type A and B wildlife areas. The meeting will be held on Monday, Sept. 15 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Solano County Mosquito Abatement District Office, 2950 Industrial Court, Fairfield (94533).  CDFW will provide hunters with updates on habitat conditions, availability of water for wetlands and possible impacts to hunting programs on public lands. State wildlife areas to be discussed include Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area and the Grizzly Island Wildlife Area complex.  Hunters will have the opportunity make comments and provide recommendations to CDFW staff...
     According to state law (Title 14 CCR, section 1758), CDFW shall annually provide an opportunity for hunters to comment and make recommendations on public hunting programs, including anticipated habitat conditions in the hunting areas on Type A and B wildlife areas.

... The California Deer Association (CDA) is pleased to announce the hiring of Roman Porter as CDA’s first Chief Executive Officer (CEO)...

... Even as the drivers were in a rush to get home after the end of their work week, they slowed down to give the deer the full use of the bridge, staying a safe distance behind them... The pair of deer hopped on the Golden Gate Bridge at about 5:30 p.m. and they had finished their trek to the other side by 6 p.m ...

Deer stop traffic while jogging across Golden Gate Bridge September 5, 2014 California, San Jose Mercury News
... Two northbound deer briefly stopped traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge on Friday evening as they made a run for the hills of Marin County, according to the California Highway Patrol.  The deer, reported at 5:24 p.m., appear to have entered the bridge from the south ... [Photo credit: Rydalia @ Rydalia]




California data: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) estimated  443,289 deer in 2013, down from about 850,000 million in 1990.  Our population model puts the current population at below 400,000, down from the peak of about 2 million around 1960. Historic and recent population estimates from CDFW do not track with the declining deer harvest data  See a Long term deer population estimate for information on reasons for the decline. Habitat loss, fragmentation, and fire suppression resulting in denser forests have been factors contributing to the decline of deer populations throughout the West. Also contributing to the population decline in California appears to be the large number of deer tags issued by the Game Commission.   In 2014, a record drought year,  the Game Commission authorized about twice as many buck tags as there are available bucks in the entire state.  Given the history of a large number of tags issued, hunter success in California is lower than in any other state.  If California hunters had the national average hunting success rate, the wild herd would be wiped out.  CDFW generates revenue from the sale of tags.  
      Evidence suggests that another contributing factor in California may be the long-term policy of the California Fish and Game Commission (CFGC), 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. The state also takes a high percentage of young bucks, resulting in relatively few mature bucks. The national management trend is to balance herd demographics. Deer managers around the country often comment to the press about the dangers of persistent skewed demographics. A 2009 study of deer in Siskiyou county found only 3 percent males.  More information with the long term population estimate.  About 10,000 deer are killed each year in vehicle collisions.
     Other western states facing declines in their deer population, such as Colorado and Wyoming, are making a major public effort to get the public involved in finding solutions.  The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is hiding this decline from the public.  During the 1980's, when Idaho was selling too many tags to sustain the herd, the people of the state pressured the agency, sales were reduced, the herd recovered.
           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 www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/gamerefuges 

CDFW Fish and Wildlife News


Tweets Related to California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Tweets about @CaliforniaDFW



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.  See more information about the long term deer population trend for California or read the recently published peer-reviewed research paper [PDF] documenting this information.