Florida Deer:  An estimated 542,000 deer in 2019, down from about 650,000 deer in 2017.  Hunting data indicates a significant decline in 2018.  An estimated population of 700,000 in 2014 and exceeding 700,000 in 2006.  The deer hunt peaked in 2008-09, a significant population decline since then.  An estimated 45,000 to 50,000 deer in 1951.  Herd analysis at right.  Historical Florida deer harvest data and news archive.

Florida Deer News

... called Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “Unfortunately, they were not very helpful,” she said. “They said she was still mobile (so) there was nothing they could do.” ... with the fire department ... They plan to attempt the rescue ...

Endangered Key Deer Fawns Vulnerable to Heat Stress as Sea Level Rises, Study Finds April 22, 2021 Florida, NC State News
... The study, which appeared in the February issue of the MDPI journal Diversity, found that Key deer fawns were most abundant in low-elevation habitats within the National Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key in Florida...
    New method found for tracking Key deer fawns April 13, 2021 Florida, Key West Citizen
... using cameras to identify fawns ... they were able to identify at least 82 confirmed fawns based on the unique patterns of spots they have on their backs ... They found that fawns tend to prefer low-lying wetland areas ...

... the Service argued in court that releasing incomplete information would confuse the public ... Judge James Boasberg found the Service had in fact completed the assessment, citing the agency’s own documents ...

FWC approves regulations changes related to chronic wasting disease January 27, 2021 Florida, FWC News
... At its February meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved rule changes that prohibit importing or possessing whole carcasses or high-risk parts of deer, elk, moose, caribou and all other species of the deer family originating from any place outside of Florida. These rule changes continue the FWC’s work to protect Florida’s deer populations by reducing the risk of chronic wasting disease spreading into the state ..,

... Wild deer preferred areas closer to tertiary roads and supplementary food sources but farther from permanent water. Ranched deer selected bottomland mixed forest and areas closer to tertiary roads, supplementary food sources, and permanent water. Ranched deer behaviors may increase the likelihood of EHDV vector encounters ...

... famous for their ability to swallow whole alligators, pigs and adult deer, because of super-elastic tendons that allow the lower jaw to stretch a long way downwards ...

... The state is looking to extend restrictions on bringing deer carcasses and meat with the bones and skin still attached ... Right now, an exception is in place for deer from Georgia and Alabama...

... A record-breaking rainy season ...  Deer are crowding levees as they seek higher ground from flooded marshes in the central Everglades... here are no swamp lilies left, so the animals start eating the leaves ...

Florida Deer Farms Battle Disease November 30, 2020 AGInfo Ag Information Network Of The West
... There are over 400 registered deer farms in the state of Florida, which include 65 of 67 counties...,

... To reduce the risk of CWD spreading into Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is proposing a draft rule amendment that, if passed, would prohibit importing or possessing carcasses or certain carcass parts from all members of the deer family originating outside of Florida. The FWC invites you to share your thoughts about that via an online commenting tool..,

Florida gym teacher rescues buck stuck in fence - November 2, 2020


Vaccine for lethal deer virus shows promise October 30, 2020 Florida, Feedstuffs
... The disease, epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV), is the leading cause of herd losses for deer farmers. In some cases, 15,000-20,000 deer can die from EHDV in one season ...  a vaccine shows promise for the $8 billion per year deer farming industry, according to the University of Florida Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences (IFAS)...

... As they were taking photos of a gathering of does along with several fawns, they noticed one had something shiny and metal in her jaw: a fishing hook... An officer snared the deer and veterinarian Douglas Mader deftly removed the hook with his bare hands ...

... “Prescribed burns are important for the continued survival of local species such as the federally endangered Key deer ... The burns can help prevent or reduce the threats of wildfires by reducing the available “fuel.” ...

... At the Critter Creek Farm Sanctuary in Gainesville, Florida ... a young deer, named Pala, was shot and killed by a youngster apparently just looking for something to shoot... it is thought Pala’s mother may have died and as a fawn, she arrived at the farm ...

A threat to the ecosystem October  3, 2020 Florida, Daily Commercial
...  the Burmese Python that has set up camp in South Florida, making meals from native animals as large as the American Alligator and White-Tailed Deer! Invasive crocodiles, far more aggressive than native gators, have also established populations in parts of the state...

... we examined the genetic vulnerability to CWD of two subspecies of WTD: the endangered Florida Key deer (O. v. clavium) and the threatened Columbian white-tailed deer ... Key deer may be less genetically susceptible to CWD than many mainland WTD populations. ... Columbian WTD are likely to be genetically more vulnerable ...

... Florida remains free of CWD, the FWC has a robust monitoring program. Since 2002, we’ve tested more than 14,000 deer ...

  ‘Bambi is safe’ Clay County deputies rescue baby deer July 23, 2020 Florida, News4Jax6h
...  it looked like the fawn had been there all night.  “He was so tired when he walked away. His poor legs were almost limp like he was exhausted from trying to get out,” ...

Management of Plant and Arthropod Pests by Deer Farmers in Florida.   Journal of Integrated Pest Management, Volume 11, Issue 1, 2020, 12.
...  Of surveyed deer farmers in Florida, 94% reported using chemicals for plant and arthropod pest control. Deer farmers reported controlling biting midges, mosquitoes, horse flies, and deer flies as their target arthropods. The primary herbicide and arthropod-targeted pesticide reported were glyphosate and permethrin, respectively...

Zookeepers Fawning Over New SF Teaching Zoo Key Deer Arrival May 15, 2020 Florida, Santa Fe College
...  USFWS called zoo staff when they found an orphaned Key deer fawn on Key Deer Wildlife Refuge. From that point, dedicated individuals from multiple organizations and agencies worked together to give the little fawn round the clock care and bring him safely to Gainesville...

Florida Key Deer Abundance and Recovery Following New World Screwworm Infestation  ID Parker, RR Lopez, NJ Silvy, BL Pierce, KG Watts… - Southeastern Naturalist, 2020
... We documented 135 Screwworm-related Florida Key Deer mortalities (∼9–20% of the total population) during the Screwworm outbreak (July 2016–January 2017). Most mortalities occurred in the adult male population, as Screwworm flies laid eggs on open wounds sustained from sparring during mating season...

White-tailed Deer of Florida 2020, University of Florida Extension [PDF]
...Throughout Florida, unregulated trade in deer hides and subsistence hunting during the mid1700s caused deer populations to decline sharply. In 1828, a law prohibiting firearm hunting west of the Suwannee River was passed to help restore population levels. However, a deer removal campaign to eradicate the cattle-fever tick in the 1930s and 40s reduced the population to an estimated 20,000. The campaign ended in 1941 with the enactment of the Pittman-Robertson Act, a federal tax on firearms and ammunition that aided in funding wildlife conservation, hunter education, and shooting programs. Arrests for game violations in the 1940s and the eradication of the screwworm fly in 1958 also helped deer populations begin to recover...,

... Santa Rosa Ranch was originally a hunting preserve ... Now, the preserve is home to over 2000 fallow and axis deer, all descendants of those from the hunting days ... with 540-acres of farm and animal agriculture...

Little deer creates big uproar on the Florida Keys March 16, 2020 Florida, KATC Lafayette News
...  The population declined in the 40s and 50s by hunting.  “To the point there was only about 25 to 50 Key Deer left ... an organization dedicated to keeping the Key Deer protected ... thinks removing the animal from the list is premature. US Fish and Wildlife estimates there are between 600 and 800 deer on the island.... “Texas A&M said there were 573 ..,

... The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is hosting a series of public meetings across the state about chronic wasting disease and steps the FWC is taking to reduce the risk of it coming into Florida...

... With only 600 to 800 remaining, visitors often want to know where to see Key deer.  Now there’s a new free nature center in Big Pine Key in the Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge...

...  after Hurricane Irma's devastating destruction.  "The freshwater ponds the deer used for drinking became filled with seawater," Emery said. "Residents began using buckets to give the deer something to drink. We had deer walking in and out of homes there." ..,

Study provides insight on how to minimize the impacts of severe weather on wildlife January 23, 2020 Florida, EurekAlert!
... a recent issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society B ...  "During the storm, we observed ...: deer ...selecting the pine forests at higher elevations. More than half of the animals we tracked left their home range for higher terrain." ... because deer seek higher elevations of pine forests during heavy storms, it is essential that land managers and conservationists protect and manage these environments..,

Florida data:  Numbers from the deer hunt have been on a general decline since 2008, down about 62 percent by 2019.  For 2015 to 2019 populations were estimated from the deer hunt data using the buck kill.   As summarized in the table below, about 542,000 deer in 2019, down from about 650,000 in 2017 and a estimate of 700,000 in 2014 from the University of Florida Extension.     
     Comments from the state indicate an approximately steady population through 2018 with lower populations in thee Big Bend region, south Florida, and Zone A. Reports of a 94 percent reduction in the white-tailed deer in the Everglades due to Burmese pythons in 2018. In 2016 emergency pumping in the Everglades to prevent deer from drowning or starving.

Estimated Population

Year   Population
2014   700,000
2015   662,000
2016   612,000
2017   650,000
2018   516,000
2019   542,000
(2014 Population
estimated by
UofFL Extension)
     In 2015 Florida biologist instituted antler point restrictions in an effort to increase the deer population over the next five years.  Good rainfall that year benefited deer.
    A research paper published in 2006 reports the "population estimates exceed 700,000 deer statewide." The deer harvest peaked in 2008-09 at almost 180,000 up from about 60,000 in 1998-99. Some antlerless deer restrictions for areas A1, A2, and A3 for 2015 were designed to grow the herd.   
     Approximately 137,000 deer hunters in the state taking about 20 percent of the herd each year. The deer harvest fell by 45 percent from 2010 to 2017. A study of deer populations in 2009 [PDF] including deer from the northwest and southwest regions shows a balanced buck to doe ratio of close to 50:50 with fawning rates of 41% singles, 57% twins, 2% triplets.
     In 2020, there are over 400 registered deer farms in the state.  A beloved buck in Mayport with its own Facebook account for two years died when its antlers were tangled in a barb-wire fence in 2016.
     History 
Deer were numerous in the Florida Panhandle based on reports from the late 1600's, but commercial hunting for deer hides reduced the herd to about 20,000 by the 1700s.   In 1828 the first hunting regulations were enacted to protect the herd, a ban on fire hunting west of the Suwanee River.  Development in Florida opened up much of the state beginning in the late 1800's.  Over hunting and a deer removal campaign to eradicate the cattle-fever tick in the 1930s and 40s decimated the population, back to the historic low population of about 20,000.  The legislature authorized participation in the Federal Aid to Wildlife program in 1941, beginning an era of deer conservation.  By 1951, the deer herd had grown to around 45,000 to 50,000.  By 1985, the annual deer harvest rose to over 100,000 for the first time, marking the beginning of the modern era of deer management.  See FWC.  
    Three subspecies of deer in Florida:  coastal whitetail in the Panhandle, Florida whitetail throughout the peninsula, and a small population of protected Key deer in Big Pine Key.  
     Key Deer migrated from the mainland during the last Ice Age when sea levels were lower.  Only 25 to 50 Key deer were left by 1950 after hunting. Less than 50 in 1967 when the were listed under the Endangered Species Act.  About 250 in the early 1980s, estimated at about 600 in 2011 through 2014 after 30 years of protection.  Population estimates rose to 900 to 1,000, but a screw worm out beak in 2016 and hurricane Irma in 2018 brought the population down with estimates in 2019 of about 1,000 and in 2020 of 573 to 800.  In 2019 there were discussion of removing key deer from the endangered species list, although their future is uncertain given sea rise.   More history and Florida deer information from the 2008 management plan.
   Population Estimates:  33,000 in 1940, 300,000 in 1969.
   Florida Panther population estimated in February, 2017, of 120 to 230 adult and subadults.  The population in 2016 estimated at 100 to 180, 15 nearly 180 in 2015, at 2014 estimate from 120 to 180, up from 30 in 1995, the start of a restoration program.   Around the year 1900, nearly 1300 panthers.
    Bear population in 2016 estimated at 4,350 adults, up from 300 to 500 in the 1970's.
    Pythons, not native to Florida, are found to be eating deer in the Everglades in 2016.  An estimated population of 100,000 in 2017.

Report poaching: Wildlife Alert Line at 1-888-404-FWCC 
- Hunt Florida, FWC's Hunting Information FaceBook Page


Fish and Wildlife Commission News




Deer Management: (1) ensure the existence of robust deer populations that meet the public's desire for recreational opportunities and protection of private property while ensuring the long-term welfare of the species, (2) ensure a high degree of public satisfaction with deer management in Florida, and (3) manage deer habitats consistent with ecosystems health, deer population goals, and customer satisfaction goals. From: Strategic Plan for Deer Management in Florida 2008-2018.