California Deer News

As I walked the New Almaden Trail this morning I spotted a majestic buck grazing in the forest just off of the trail. It had an impressive rack covered in velvet. Although it noticed me it had no real concern and just went about its business. - June 27, 2016 California


... State officials announced this week that a gray wolf-like animal walked past motion-activated trail cameras multiple times over the past several months in western Lassen County ... State wildlife officials have released a draft wolf conservation plan ...

Are Belvedere deer woes worth the public cost? June 22, 2016 California, Marin Independent Journal
... The City Council is being cautious about their proposal to hire a company to catch and sterilize the deer and thereby reduce the herd’s numbers.  The plan has drawn objections from Marin’s two leading animal organizations — the Marin Humane Society and WildCare. Both say that instead of a costly sterilization program, Belvedere residents should protect their landscaping with fencing...

Wildlife-Vehicle Conflict Hotspots along California Highways (2009-2015) California Roadkill Observation System, U.C. Davis [PDF]
... This report provides an overview of wildlife-vehicle conflict (WVC) hotspots on California highways, based on carcass observations in the California Roadkill Observation System (http://wildlifecrossing.net/California)... 

Belvedere council wrestles with deer sterilization proposal July 14, 2016 California, Marin Independent Journal
... The council agreed to invite the Connecticut-based nonprofit White Buffalo Inc., a pioneering group that performs deer ovariectomies, to present a proposal at a July 27 meeting...  a goal of reducing the deer population — which the group estimates is about 100 animals — by about 50 percent...

Lawsuit filed over Mendocino County pot regulations June 12, 2016 California, Santa Rosa Press Democrat
... The Mendocino County Blacktail Association — dedicated to maintaining healthy herds of Columbian black-tailed deer, in part for hunting — is seeking an injunction against the urgency ordinance and demanding the county complete an environmental impact study. The ordinance allows people to grow up to 99 plants on a 10-acre parcel with a permit from the Sheriff’s Office...

Belvedere deer strategy would be safe and humane June 12, 2016 California, Marin Independent Journal
... If approved by the city of Belvedere, a California-licensed veterinarian who specializes in wildlife would perform the surgeries. He has performed more than 400 ovariectomies on wild deer. Capture-related mortality rates have been less than 2 percent.  In a recent identical program at The Villages in San Jose, approved and monitored by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife ...

Pair of deers crossing Eel River in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. - June 9, 2016


Why is the DFW still failing to manage our deer herds correctly? June 6, 2016 California, taftmidwaydriller.com
... 60 to 80 percent of those reported dead deer are yearling bucks, and almost all the rest are two-year olds ...  I was hunting private land managed for quality deer. Our hunter success rate was an honest 80 to 90 percent. Meanwhile, just on the other side of the fence on U.S. Forest Service property, the public hunting zone had a DFW ìestimatedî success rate 14 percent (again, probably actually around seven or eight percent). ...

Sterilizing deer won't solve Belvedere's problem June 5, 2016 California, Marin Independent Journal
...  the population of deer in Belvedere has not grown — it has remained the same for many years...  the use of chemical control (darting an animal with a tranquilizer) is something reserved for critical or dangerous situations ...  White Buffalo Inc., the company five residents want to hire to perform ovariectomies on the deer, plans to undertake serious surgery in a resident’s garage ...  not humane ...

Exotic pediculosis and hair-loss syndrome in deer (Odocoileus hemionus) populations in California A Roug, P Swift, B Puschner, G Gerstenberg… - Journal of Veterinary …, 2016
... Infestation with nonnative, “exotic” lice was first noted in Washington black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) in 1994 and has since then spread throughout the western United States. In California, infestation with the exotic louse Damalinia (Cervicola) sp. was first detected in black-tailed deer from northern California in 2004 ... Our results show that exotic lice are widespread in California, and younger age classes with low blood selenium concentrations are more likely to be infested with lice than older deer...

... A woman was busted in Mendocino County after she tried to sell a fawn on Craigslist ... A misdemeanor conviction for illegal possession and sale of wildlife can bring up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine...

Looks like a good year for new deer May 30, 2016 California, San Francisco Chronicle
... “In the past few years during the drought, we verified deer with one fawn, and some with no fawns,” ... wildlife ecologist for the East Bay Regional Park District. “It showed how stressed out the deer were with the drought. This year, there are lots of fawns.” ...

Belvedere, Marin County Island Considers Expense Deer Spaying Plan May 23, 2016 California, CBS Local
...“The deer are eating their flowers, their plants, their expensive vegetation and their landscaping,” ... One suggestion is to surgically spay the deer, one at a time, at an estimated cost of $1,200 each ...
     Belvedere deer sterilization program receives mixed reviews May 21, 2016 Calironia, Marin Independent Journal
... A group of Belvedere residents wants to control the island’s deer population by surgically sterilizing the females ... Cindy Machado of the Marin Humane Society said, “We need to educate the community on how we live with wildlife,” and that “the proposal is premature.”  “We really need to see data,” ... The deer group proposed ... working with the Connecticut-based nonprofit White Buffalo Inc ...

Don Ford reports on debate over how to control exploding deer population on Belvedere Island (5-23-2016) - May 24, 2016 California


Fish and Wildlife seek public help in deer killing May 21, 2016 California, Sierra Star
...shooting of a deer in Yosemite Lakes Park at about 8:30 p.m. Monday night... along the 44000 block of Copper Creek Court ...  24-hour CalTIP hotline (888-334-2258)... send an anonymous text tip to 847411 (tip411) ...

Locals rally for fawn rescue center May 19, 2016 California, Ramona Sentinel
... Using Lockwood’s Oak Street property as a home base, the women take in fawns that have either been abandoned or injured or otherwise separated from their herds... Last year, the center also reunited two fawns that were mistaken for abandoned by hikers...

Marin wildlife camera project yields vast collection of animal images May 16, 2016 California, San Jose Mercury News
... Wildlife cameras installed on Mount Tamalpais ... Volunteers are cataloging hundreds of thousands of photos ... Black-tailed deer are the most common, accounting for roughly half ...

Deer-ly beloved May 13, 2016 California, The Sheet
...  a drowning deer in a Snowcreek reclaimed water holding pond ... unable to exit the pond due to the rubberized liner which is intended to prevent water from seeping into the ground ... attempted do to CPR on the deer, but that it was too late...

... aspiring do-gooders are snatching up the animals and bringing them in for foster care...In order to keep her young safe, a doe will leave her fawn in a secluded area, often for as long as 12 hours, distracting predators away from her baby while she forages for food.  ... 

...  recent Caltrans studies indicate more than 1,000 mule deer have been killed along Highway 89 in the Loyalton-Truckee area over the past 27 years ... It’s really making sure these deer can use the habitat like they always have....

Marin wildlife experts urge residents to leave baby deer alone May 4, 2016 California, Marin Independent Journal
...  unattended fawns that residents have loaded into vehicles and taken home, hoping to save them ... When a fawn is alone and sitting quietly, its mom is usually not far away... WildCare has taken in 15 fawns this year from both residents and the Humane Society. Six have been successfully reunited with their mothers ...

CDFW seeks info on doe kill May 1, 2016 California, Siskiyou Daily News
...  The deer was shot on the body with a shotgun and left to waste along the side of Ditch Creek Road, west of Hornbrook in Siskiyou County [around Marh 26] ... call CalTIP, CDFW’s confidential secret witness program, at (888) 334-2258 

... the 11 westernmost contiguous states excluding Alaska and Hawaii — lost more than 4,300 square miles of what it calls "natural lands" ... California lost the largest amount of natural land to development between 2001 and 2011... 784 square miles ...  it has highly alarming implications for the mule deer or the grizzly bear who need connected corridors of land to survive...

... In a little less than one week (on March 30) this petition, with all its signatures (hopefully 29,000 or more) and comments, will be referenced in “Meeting Documents” of the California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) for their April 14, 2016, meeting. A critical final vote is scheduled ...


... California has had the largest decline from peak to recent harvest of any state. Declining timber sales are highly correlated with the decline in California. States like California with a relatively high proportion of public land, a low hunter success rate, and a persistently skewed buck-to-doe harvest ratio report a lower harvest as a percent of peak. An economic framework is presented to explain how the public decision making process for deer management and the practice of setting the price of deer hunting licenses well below market equilibrium incentivizes some of these result.

Mule Deer seen near Hidden Falls Regional Park in Auburn, CA (Placer County) March 19, 2016 California


Point Reyes Elk Test Positive for Disease February 28, 2016 California, Bay Nature
... Five adult elk ... tested positive for Johne’s disease in February, following hundreds of negative results from samples collected since May 2014... it can be rampant in cattle operations. The Drake’s Beach elk herd shares park-owned pastureland with cattle ... The discovery could complicate the National Park Service’s efforts to relocate tule elk to other areas of the park ...
... A $407,000 grant to the California Rangeland Trust for a cooperative project with the Natural Resource Conservation Services to acquire a conservation easement over approximately 1,547 acres of land for the protection of oak woodlands, deer and mountain lion habitat, watersheds and wildlife corridors located in Bear Valley in Colusa County...

Many of California's Mountain Lions Are Eating Our Pets February 21, 2016 Patch.com
... When examining the stomachs of those animals, official discovered that they had primarily been eating things like dogs, cats and other domesticated animals. A much smaller portion of their diets— just 5 percent— was deer. [Given the decline of the deer population, see right column, the lions have few alternatives. We expect the lion population to decline dramatically as this behavior is unlikely to be sustainable].

I280 Roadkill – Definitely No Food Party February 15, 2016 California, Palo Alto Online
... “It’s just carnage out there around 2AM - 4AM,” says San Jose resident and activist, Kathryn Harrold. I’ve driven 280 home late from work to find multiple deer over multiple lanes just mowed down... It’s been two years since the completion of Interstate 280 Wildlife Connectivity Research Study: Findings and Recommendations, yet nothing has been done...

Lincoln Butte is a two acre parcel in northern Sausalito, California


Obama Protects 1.8 million Acres of California Desert February 12, 2016 EcoWatch
... The newly designated Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow and Castle Mountains National Monuments protect parts of the Mojave and Sonoran wilderness ... essential habitat for desert tortoise, bighorn sheep, mule deer, golden eagles and a host of migratory bird species...

Short clip of mule deer bucks sparring for dominance in San Diego County's back country. February 11, 2016 California


Stop GPS Hound Hunting of Deer in California, petition to CDFW February 5, 2016 Change.org
... Hound hunting of deer is what hunters may label it, but having a pack of hounds run a deer to the ground ... often only to be mauled or killed by the hounds ... the California Fish and Game Commission is considering an amendment to Mammal Hunting Code of Regulation 265 to allow GPS collars on hounds while hunting deer ...

... prescribed burning in the Sierra Nevada and other parts of California with over-dense timber and brush... the practice, already well-established in Yosemite National Park ... would reduce fire losses while enhancing wildlife habitat and watersheds... The fires maintain the semi-open habitat favored by deer...

Fishing, hunting report card data for many species due Jan. 31 January 29, 2016 California, Lake County News
... The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds ... hunters that Jan. 31, 2016, is the due date for turning in ... unfulfilled deer tag report cards (a new requirement for this year)...

California Deer Tag Numbers May Drop By 70,000 January 27, 2016 Calironia, The Outdoor Wire
...  Currently, 196,980 deer tags are issued for the A, B, C, D and X zone general hunts in the state. The new figures allow for lowering that number to 127,000, or 69,980 fewer tags. That means the state is expecting deer herds to plummet...

... The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has begun conducting a series of deer surveys in northern California this week using a helicopter. The survey work began Monday, Jan. 25 in Modoc County... The Modoc and Lassen surveys are part of a larger CDFW effort to estimate population sizes of deer herds throughout northern California...

Public weighs in on the wolf January 21, 2016 California, Siskiyou Daily News
... Griffin, District 5 Supervisor Ray Haupt, and District 3 Supervisor Michael Kobseff discussed at length the issue of California’s low elk and deer populations. There was also talk of how the wolf population might affect the hunting season. The members also discussed the cost involved with the loss of cattle...

This Southern Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) doe (female) has found a place to drink in San Diego County's back country. This resource is especially important as drinking spots in this drought stricken region have become fewer every year. - January 15, 2016 California


...  another gray wolf has entered California from Oregon last month... a three-year-old male named OR-25 ... 

... Pumas and black bears are the two large carnivores found throughout California. Both species kill deer and other ungulates and as a result they often compete with each other...  pumas abandoned over 70% of their kills as soon as bears arrived ...  Santa Cruz does not have bears, and as you might expect puma densities are over five times higher ...

California condor that helped save species returns to wild December 31, 2015 Chicago Tribune
... Lead poisoning is believed one of the main factors that drove California condors toward extinction. The birds ingest fragments of lead bullets when they feed on carcasses of animals shot by hunters...

Cobb man sentenced for illegally killing deer December 29, 2015 California, Lake County News
... convicted and sentenced for illegally hunting on the Hoberg's Resort property on Cobb Mountain ... illegally taking deer within 400 yards of a baited area, wanton waste of a game animal, failure to tag a deer after killing it and illegal possession of a deer...

California State Spotlight December 24, 2015 Mule Deer Foundation
... Warner Mountains Aspen Retreatment:  ... re-treat 300 acres of quaking aspen habitat ... so critical for fawning cover, quality forage and loafing activities, and that healthy aspen stands are shrinking all around the West, this project is an extremely important one. MDF contributed $50,000 to this effort with chapter rewards and a grant from the CDFW big game tag account, and the USFS contributed another $107,000...

That’s right America, in Berkeley deer use crosswalks! December 21, 2015 California, Berkeley Side
... While driving along Grizzly Peak Boulevard on his scooter after dark on Dec. 17, McPartlan witnessed not one, but three deer use a crosswalk to get from one side of the road to the other...

Deer rescued after getting stuck in mud at Bolinas Lagoon December 21, 2015 California, Marin Independent Journal
... After pulling the deer out of the water, rescuers used a blanket to clean off the mud and then checked the animal out, determining that despite the ordeal, it was unhurt...

... for authorizing the state to kill wolves when the population reaches as few as 50 to 75 animals.  In an equally troubling step, the plan calls for increasing the number of bears and coyotes killed – and the eventual killing of wolves – to maintain elk and deer populations, though habitat conditions are bigger factors...

... On Friday, the National Park Service (NPS) released video footage of the mountain lion kitten in the wild, mewing and approaching the carcass of a deer killed by the its mother... The group is threatened by inbreeding, highway deaths and rat poison ...

Fog ferries mercury from the ocean to land animals December 18, 2015 California, Science News
...  mercury, picked up from ocean water, is being deposited on land and accumulating in animals ... Weiss-Penzias presented preliminary data showing high levels of mercury in deer in central California and in the mountain lions that eat them...

Alaska Airlines plane kills deer while landing in Santa Rosa December 5, 2015 California, San Francisco Gate 
... The unusual deer collision occurred as the plane was landing but before it hit the ground. The plane landed safely but the animal died...

A big buck doesn't seem to know what to make of three wild turkeys. - December 4, 2015 California


Why is there no deer fence along I-280? November 30, 2015 California, Woodland Daily Democrat
...  The project is on hold. Caltrans says it needs $4 million to install a fence for 22 miles from Millbrae to Woodside to keep deer off the freeway, but those funds haven't been allocated yet. There are up to 50 deer-auto collisions a year on 280 in San Mateo County...

CDFW Seeks Public Comment on Supplemental Wildlife Plans November 16, 2015 California, CDFW News
... The goal of the SWAP is to examine the health of the state’s fish and wildlife resources and to prescribe actions to conserve these resources before they become endangered and more costly to protect... The public review period will run from Nov. 16, 2015, through Jan. 15, 2016. In addition, CDFW will hold a public meeting to present the plans and answer questions on Nov. 30, 2015, from 1-3 p.m. in the Natural Resources Building auditorium, 1416 Ninth Street, Sacramento...The draft companion plans and comment form are available online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/swap

Sick, dying deer being tracked by state November 6, 2015 California, The Willits News 
... Over the last two years, CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Lab (WIL) has received more than 50 reports of sick or dead deer in urbanized areas from Siskiyou County to Fresno County.  Evidence collected from deer carcasses suggests that adenovirus hemorrhagic disease ... 


California data: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) estimated 512,000 deer in 2015 up from 443,289 deer in 2014.  The population estimate for 2015 that CDFW presented to WAFWA was a range of 450,000 to 550,00, better reflecting the estimation reliability.  Although the CDFW population model relies heavily on the deer harvest data, this estimate was made in early 2015, before the harvest data was available.  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.  
     Data from the U.C. Davis Roadkill project point to a "troubling decline" in deer numbers for 2015, consistent with the expected outcome of prolonged drought.   Road kill data had jumped in 2014.  Deer appear to have been to be moving around more in search of food of water in 2014, hunter success went up somewhat in 2014, a common result of scarce food supplies. Nevada estimated a population decline as a result of the drought in 2015. Preliminary 2015 harvest data is higher, but the state implemented mandatory reporting which is expected to increase the reporting rate.  In January, 2016, the state considered dropping the target number of deer tags for 2016 from 196,680 to 127,000.  Read a peer reviewed research article demonstrating how public management decisions in California have contributed to the long term decine of the deer population.
     CDFW declines to explain the details of  its population estimation method. We filed a freedom of information request and got one small, undocumented spreadsheet that seemed to assume a downward future trend for the population.  This peer-reviewed research article, starting on page 159, documents previous information on CDFW's website that significantly overstated the relative abundance of deer in California.   
       CDFW estimated the population at 850,000 in 1991, 1.5 million in 1967.  The graphic below shows the CDFW's estimate for the California population since 1991 compared to the reported deer harvest [click on graph
to enlarge]. 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 major factors contributing to the decline of deer populations throughout the West. The decline in timber sales corresponding to reduced logging activity is highly correlated to the decline of California deer populations.  Buy a paper bag - save a deer.  Also contributing to the population decline in California appears to be the large number of deer tags issued by the Game Commission.  
     In 2014, 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 often 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 about $25 million in revenue annually from the sale of tags.  
      Evidence suggests that another contributing factor in California may be the long-term policy of  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. [see a peer reviewed journal article documenting these issues] 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.  During the 1960's, when Idaho was selling too many tags to sustain the herd and overstating the population numbers.  The people of the state pressured the agency, tag sales were reduced, the herd recovered.  Same basic story in Colorado during the 1990's.  About 10,000 deer are killed each year in vehicle collisions.  Estimated $400 million related to deer hunting in the state annually, but on a steady decline.
     Elk, less than 10,000 in 2015.
     The mountain lion population, estimated at around 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. 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, the draft plan for wolves in California.  
     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

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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


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