Deer Population


The total United States deer population in 2021 was about 35.2 million, up from a recent low of 32.2 million in 2014, down from the recent peak in 2000 of 38.1 million deer.  In 2021 there were about 31.7 million whitetails and 3.5 million mule and blacktail deer.  Use the drop down menu above to see the population analysis "By State".   Chart Data

Whitetail deer populations in the United States have returned to about the range of common estimates for the pre-European contact period, but mule deer and blacktail deer are well below recent peaks and pre-colonization estimates.  


As described in this page of historic estimates, the pre-colonial whitetail population presented in the chart above is largely based on the most commonly cited work of McCabe and McCabe (1984) who based their estimates on the population size of Native Americans.  However, there is significant variability in these estimates, but generally the pre-contact Native American population is now considered to be higher than the number used by McCabe and McCabe.  Hanberry and Hanberry (2020) place a maximum bound on the whitetail population before Euro-American settlement at 65 million to 80 million in North America.


The whitetail population fell from about 33.5 million in 2000 to 28.6 million in 2014, recovering to about 31.7 million in 2021.  About 1.5 million of that recovery is associated with Texas where the population increased around 2016 and 2017 at the same time Texas Parks and Wildlife recalibrated its deer population model.  The current whitetail population is about the same as pre-colonization when the population was estimated at roughly 30 million by . Historic estimates. However, the whitetail range significantly expanded to the north and west in the past hundred years so a lower deer density results in the same total number of deer.


The mule and blacktail deer populations fell from about 4.6 million in 2000 to 3.8 million in 2013 and was about stable at 3.5 million in 2021 and 2022.  However, the hard winter of 2022-23 in the northwest has dramatically reduced populations in some states.  The recent peak for mule and blacktails was around 1960 as illustrated in the chart above. Not included are non-native deer imported from Asia, about 131,000 wild Axis deer in Hawaii and 15,000 in Texas.  Also 15,000 Sika deer in Maryland.


As illustrated in the chart below, while the total deer population fell by about 7.1 percent from the year 2000 to 2021, the number of deer killed in the annual hunt fell by about 13.9 percent.  Fewer hunters in some areas and hunting restrictions contributed to this difference.  Or the deer population could be overestimated.  The increased deer kill in 2020 is associated with more hunters in the field during the pandemic.  The data used for the chart, with the hunting data for each state, is available in this spreadsheet

Deer were nearly hunted to extinction by the early 1900s and were extirpated in many regions.  In 1890 the U.S. BIological Survey estimated the whitetail population at 300,000.  Conservation and restocking allowed whitetail populations to recover to about pre-colonization levels while blacktails and mule deer are below historic levels.  A Wall Street Journal article reports that “The U.S. now has 30 million deer, a hundred times more than a century ago" failing to point out that deer faced a near extinction event 100 years ago and that the white-tail population has approximately returned to its historic population size.  [This and other examples in news and research].  The modern decline of mule and blacktail populations has been a major concern of wildlife agencies for decades.


Data for the trend in the whitetail deer population from 2000 and earlier is based on Kert VerCauteren in The Deer Boom, the Wildlife Management Institute's 1984 book "Whitetail Deer: Ecology and Management" and other historic deer data, updated using current harvest data and state population estimates.  This information is provided in more detail in this data history page, including sources describing the relatively recent migration of deer into much of Canada.   Recent University of Wyoming research puts the white-tailed deer population prior to European settlement in America at 30 to 40 million. 


Research published in 2014 and 2018 using data from this site identified the recent change in the total population trend, turning down around the year 2000.  Using a sample of populations from 29 states, the U.S. Forest service published a report in 2010 identifying the year 2000 peak for whitetail deer.


In 2012 there were 231,431 deer on 4,042 operations in the country according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service.


Causes for the Decline of the Deer Population

Habitat loss, change, and fragmentation are known to play a role in the decline.  Many fear that chronic wasting disease will drive the deer population to low levels over the coming decades.  Searching the internet, this site has tracked many of the proposed causes for the declining deer population reported in the column at right and in more detail on for each state on their page, including: 

-  California:  Increased forest density, drought, predation.

-  Maine and New England:   Changes that have occurred on commercially managed forest lands – based on a new Forest Study

-  Connecticut:  First decline since early 1900’s, increased predation  (Bobcat, Coywolf)

-  Western North Carolina:  Mature Forests, Cherokee Indians are restocking deer herds

-  West Virginia:  Aging forests in high mountains

-  Georgia:  Coyotes

-  Minnesota:  Severe Winters

-  Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota:  Overharvest, drought, EHD

-  Colorado:  Food supply, predation, energy development

-  North Dakota:  Drought, EHD (severe decline), habitat loss

-  Montana:  Loss of habitat, severe winter, predation

-  Oregon:  Reduction in logging related to timber sales


When Europeans first came to settle America, it was estimated that as many as 10 million elk roamed the land. The current population is around one million.  An estimated 1 million moose in North America in 2018.  The last U.S. caribou was moved to Canada in an effort to save the local herd in 2019.


Mule Deer and Blacktail Deer Populations Have Been in Decline for Many Years

The graph below shows the estimated 1911 to 2016 California deer population, made up of blacktails and mule deer, falling by about 75 percent from 1960. See the California page for an analysis of what appears to be the largest modern decline in the deer population. 


California Deer Population Estimate, 1911 to 2016

Read a peer reviewed research article demonstrating how public management decisions in California may have contributed to the long term decline of the deer population.


What Are We Conserving with Conservation?


We have outlawed wilderness — can rewilding bring it back? November 11, 2019 apolitical.com

... Our hunter-gatherer ancestors caused the widespread demise of the large herbivores leading to a “downgrading” of ecosystems.  As the grazers were no longer around to keep woody vegetation in check, trees got the upper hand over grasses and forests became the dominant vegetation ... Today, the realization that biodiversity policy has been protecting the ecological impacts of historic extinctions ...


Are Deer a Threat to Forests?


Does white-tailed deer density affect tree stocking in forests of the Eastern United States? August, 2019 Ecological Processes

... Despite deer pressure, a major transition in eastern forests has resulted in increased tree densities. Methods To reconcile conflicting trends, we applied generalized linear mixed models to compare deer densities during 1982 and then 1996 to tree stocking after about 30 years and 15 years of potential reductions of small trees by deer, for the entire eastern US and 11 ecological provinces... Deer densities and tree stocking were not related significantly for the entire eastern US...  Furthermore, major tree species trends did not match tree browse preferences. Conclusions Rather than too few trees, too many trees is an ecological problem where historical open oak and pine forests had herbaceous understories, and currently, trees have captured growing space. We attribute other drivers than deer to explain this transition...


Regaining the History of Deer Populations and Densities in the Southeastern United States  BB Hanberry, P Hanberry - Wildlife Society Bulletin, 2020

... Deer population sizes declined to a minimum of <215,000 during the early 1900s. Population sizes and mean deer densities were 304,000 and 0.22 deer/km2 by 1940, 476,000 and 0.35 deer/km2 by 1950, 2.9 million to 4.1 million and 2.2 to 3.1 deer/km2 by approximately 1970, 6.2 million and 4.6 deer/km2 by 1982, and 10.8 million to 12 million and 8 to 9 deer/km2 by about 2003... the current population may be within the bounds of mid to high historical deer densities ... deer may be considered a natural disturbance helpful in controlling increased tree densities during the past century ...


Maybe deer aren't the forest-killers we thought they were October 6, 2020 Concord Monitor

... A report from the U.S. Forest Service (read it here) says: ... using current tree surveys and historical records they examined trends in tree species preferred by deer. Researchers found white-tail deer have not reduced tree densities at landscape scales across the Eastern U.S. In fact, they propose other management influences and fire exclusion have had bigger impacts...


Are Forests a Threat to Deer?


"Factors Related to Larger but Fewer Wildfires and Fewer Deer in California: A Google Sites Knowledge Base," [PDF] (2019) Issues in Information Systems. 20(1), pp. 22-31.

... Large wildfires have been a recent focus of public concern in California and other western states...  Data from 1987 show that total acres burned increased and were correlated to increased maximum temperature, and that that wildfires have become larger but less frequent. A decline in logging activity was strongly correlated to increased fire size and reduced deer populations. [Forest density in California has increased as a result of forest management practices and reduced logging, reducing deer habitat and dramatically reducing the deer population]. Drought was also correlated to increased fire size and fewer deer. ...


Habitat Use of Female Columbian Black-tailed Deer in Western Oregon TJ Schrautemeier - 2017

... Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) observed declines in black-tailed deer populations since the late 1980’s and attributes these declines to reduction in quality and availability of habitat, following the decline of timber harvest on federal lands... my results support the hypothesis that food and cover are more readily available and used by female black-tailed deer on industrial forestlands than federal forestlands in western Oregon...


‘There’s good fire and bad fire.’ An Indigenous practice may be key to preventing wildfires December 18, 2020 California, National Geographic

... 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...


Chronic Wasting Disease is Expected to Dramatically Reduce Future Deer Populations


Biologist ponders: What happens when every deer has chronic wasting disease?  February 13, 2020 Minnesota, StarTribune

... As the environmental reservoir of toxic prions continues to grow, deer can be infected irrespective of whether there are many or few deer in the immediate area. That is why culling works only in the very early stages of a CWD outbreak ... Deer with Gene A live for two years after infection; Gene B two to three years: Gene C up to four years...


Widely used neonic insecticides may be a threat to mammals, too February 5, 2021 Food & Environment Reporting Network

... Chemically related to nicotine, neonics, as they’re known, were developed in the 1990s as a safer alternative to more toxic, longer-lasting farm chemicals... data suggesting that a significant number of wild deer in the upper Midwest have neonics in their spleens... “Neonics could have a catastrophic effect on white-tailed deer populations,” ...


The End of Caribou in the U.S.

The Quiet Extinction February 19, 2020 Montana, Montana Kaimin

... Caribou herds once abundantly thrived from 

General Information

The California Deer Decline and Possibilities for Restoration Cal-Nevada Wildlife Transactions, 1976 


Decline of Mule Deer Populations in Colorado: Reasons and Responses. 1999.


North American Mule Deer Conservation Plan - MULE DEER ... From Alaska, down the Pacific Coast of California to southern Baja Mexico and from the extreme ..... decline of mule deer populations over large portions ..


Estimated whitetail populations.  Published by Deer and Deer Hunting in the 1998 Almanac:  Texas 3,748,000, Michigan 1,900,000, Mississippi 1,750,000, Wisconsin 1,600,000, Alabama 1,500,000

Statistical Abstract, 1957:  454,000 deer killed by hunters in the United States


Deer Population in the South  ... The deer population increased from about 303,500 in the mid-forties to about 2,405,000 at the present time [1969] and the kill increased from about 60,133 in 1950 to 274,184 in 1967 in the 11 Southern States on which data are available... 


An estimated 1 million moose in North America in 2018.


When Europeans first came to settle America, it was estimated that as many as 10 million elk roamed the land [Kathy Funk, the Virginia volunteer state chair for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation]  ... 


The elk are coming! The elk are coming! December 17, 2017 California, Oroville Mercury Register

... Prior to Europeans, there were about 10 million elk in all of the USA. Due to excessive hunting the population dropped to about 50,000, and through restocking it’s up to about 1 million...


Early humans hunted the largest available animals to extinction for 1.5 million years December 21, 2021 

Phys.org

... "Starting about 400,000 years ago, the humans who lived in our region—early ancestors of the Neandertals and Homo sapiens, appear to have hunted mainly deer, along with some larger animals weighing almost a ton, such as wild cattle and horses...

The population estimates are the total of estimates from state wildlife agencies and other published sources. Hunting and other data is used to fill in missing years. This peer reviewed paper explains the method.  Use the drop down menu above "By State" to go each state for a detailed population analysis and news. 


Population trends vary considerably by state.  Western deer, mule deer and blacktails, have been in a long decline.  Some whitetail populations are near or at recent highs such as in Wisconsin and Texas, while whitetails have been declining in Georgia.  Each state page has a link to an archive of "Population and Management" information in the upper right corner used in analyzing the populations.


Why does this page at Cornell extension estimate 25 million deer?  Check the math.


Reports of Deer Populations in Decline


Wyoming Range mule deer population declines after severe winter of 2022-23 February 29, 2024 Wyoming Game & Fish Department

... Wildlife biologists estimate the current herd number to be about 11,000 animals —  a considerable decline from the February 2023 estimate of 30,000 individuals..,


Minnesota 2023 deer harvest down 8% statewide from 2022, DNR says February 26, 2024 YAHOO!News

... Minnesota hunters shot 158,678 deer during the 2023 hunting season ... down 8% from the 2022 season and 14% less than the five-year average... In recent years, deer populations have been lower in northern Minnesota ..,


Outdoors in Maine: Deciphering the Downeast deer yard February 24, 2024 Maine, Sun Journal

... As Maine works at restoring its declining deer numbers in the north woods, identifying and protecting historic deer wintering areas has taken on a new urgency. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIF&W) now has dedicated funding that is legally earmarked to actually purchase known deer yards ...


Assembly OKs suspending doe hunting in northern Wisconsin February 23, 2024 Madison.com

... Hunters in northern Wisconsin would be barred from killing any does for four years under legislation the state Assembly approved Thursday... to help the northern herd replenish ..,


Alaska Fish & Game to Reduce Caribou Tags Amid Continued Herd Decline February 22. 2024

Field & Stream

... The latest estimates, based on photographic aerial surveys, put the herd at approximately 152,000 animals. At its 2003 peak, it was nearly 500,000 caribou strong. Herd numbers have swung widely over the last 50 years, hitting a low of 75,000 caribou in 1976, then rebounding after hunting restrictions were put in place ...


WDFW Opens Comment On 3-year Hunting Proposals Package February 22, 2024 Washington, Northwest Sportsman Magazine

... “White-tailed and mule deer populations in southeast Washington remain below levels prior to a hemorrhagic disease outbreak in 2021,” the agency states. “Similarly, mule deer populations in north-central Washington have recently been impacted by intense environmental conditions (e.g., drought, extreme winter conditions), disease, and expansive wildfire. Improved adult female survival, which is facilitated by restricting antlerless harvest, will promote population growth and stability.” ...


From squirrel to deer: Iowa hunters review season, share concerns with state officials February 21, 2024 Iowa, KMTV

... The deer population has been relatively low in Iowa since 2012.... Wildlife biologist Matt Dollison says the deer population isn't rebounding the way they'd like to see. He called it "a bit of a mystery" and says there might be several reasons..,


Chronic Wasting Disease, Zombie Deer Disease Is Spreading Through America. Here's Why It's a Concern February 19, 2024 ScienceAlert

... the ecological effects of CWD extend beyond deer populations, affecting entire ecosystems. Deer play a crucial role in shaping vegetation dynamics (how plant communities change and evolve over time) through browsing and grazing. And their decline could have cascading effects on plant communities, soil health and other wildlife species that depend on deer as a food source or habitat modifier...


Anderson: In north woods deer hunting debate, we're not seeing the forest February 18, 2024 Yahoo! Sports

...  wolves appear to be sustaining themselves on food sources other than deer, and therefore — at least for the time being — their numbers are not tracking downward in concert with deer populations, as is usually the case in predator-prey cycles... others say that increasing the breadth and quality of northeast habitat is the best chance hunters have to boost the region's deer numbers..,


Wyoming Legislators Propose Separate Seasons for Whitetail and Mule Deer to Aid Conservation February 16, 2024 NewsBreak Original

... This legislative move aims to provide targeted management strategies to support the struggling mule deer populations, while accommodating the growth of the whitetail deer numbers across the state... with mule deer numbers declining and whitetails increasing in various regions of Wyoming...,


Our View: BLM’s big game plan must protect further February 1, 2024 Colorado, The Durango Herald

... In the Southwest alone, elk calf survival rates have declined significantly since the 1980s, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife... Current elk populations aren’t likely sustainable over the next 20 years. The BLM knows this...


Wyoming’s deer factory — the Black Hills — is emptier than ever January 23, 2024 WyoFile on MSN

... In the fall of 2021, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department documented one of the worst EHD epidemics on record. In places, it was every bit as deadly as the winter of 2022-’23, which killed upwards of 60% of collared adult deer and over 70% of adult collared pronghorn in some swaths of western Wyoming.. Mule deer numbered an estimated 13,500 in the Black Hills Herd after the 2022 hunting season, down from a recent high of over 32,000 in 2017 ..,


Genomic analyses capture the human-induced demographic collapse and recovery in a wide-ranging cervid January 2024.  Camille Kessler, Aaron B A Shafer

... , there is a severe decline in white-tailed deer effective population size (Ne) at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum. We found robust evidence for colonial overharvest in the form of a recent and dramatic drop in Ne in all analysed populations. Historical census size and restocking data show a clear parallel to historical Ne estimates, and temporal Ne/Nc ratio shows patterns of conservation concern for mule deer...


BLM assessing big game corridor protections January 20, 2024 Colorado, The Durango Herald

... Deer and elk herds across Colorado face ever increasing obstacles as unfettered development shrinks available habitat... BLM is considering restricting the amount of disturbance to 3% of high priority habitat ...


Hunters Worried As Huge Die-Off, Disease Decimate Wyoming Mule Deer Herds January 17, 2024 Cowboy State Daily

... Wyoming’s mule deer population plunged from an estimated 409,000 in 2017 to 243,000 in 2022, and last winter’s huge die-off and disease have further decimated herds, which has left many hunters worried... In 2012, Wyoming had an estimated 376,000 mule deer, and roughly 409,000 in 2017...


Bitterroot deer population 'stable' but overall data points to long-term declines January 11, 2024 Montana, Ravalli Republic

... Researchers do two surveys per year — a spring survey and a post-hunting season survey... Mowry has been looking at data on district 270 going back into the '90s, and overall it's showing long-term declines in the population of mule deer ... this year, there was only 1,000 ... in the '90s, we were getting over 3,000 ..,


Michigan firearm deer hunt numbers plummet, particularly in U.P., and locals blame wolves January 11, 2024 Michigan, YAHOO!News

...Despite selling more deer hunting licenses than the previous year, the 2023 firearm deer season resulted in a significantly lower deer take in Michigan than in 2022 — with the falloff even more pronounced in the Upper Peninsula..,


The complex world of wild horses in the West January 9, 2024 Nevada, WSHU

...  Biologists warn that rising wild horse populations are wiping out the winter forage mule deer depend on for survival through the long, harsh Nevada winters... 


FWP seeks members for mule deer panel as commission restricts doe hunting in Eastern Montana January 8, 2024 Montana, Billings Gazette

... Mule deer populations have declined in southeastern Montana from their most recent peak in 2020, according to FWP. Back then, 11,000 mule deer B licenses — good only to hunt antlerless deer — were issued. This past season that was cut to 1,000 B licenses. Overall, the region’s mule deer population is 48% below the long-term average...


CCMB researchers estimate critically endangered 'Hangul deer' population using genetic data December 15, 2023 India, Telangana Today

... In the early 1900s, there were 3,000-5,000 Hangul and over the years, due to a variety of reasons (including hunting), their numbers in the wild are now estimated to be close to 200 individuals with skewed sex ratio of just 12-15 males for every 100 females... [published in Cambridge Core]


Lack of snow in Sask. could be good for deer population December 5, 2023, Saskatchewan, battlefordsnow

... Over the last two winters, certain areas have seen numbers drop by over 25 per cent... 


Proposed hunting reg changes reflect declining mule deer populations December 4, 2023 Montana, Billings Gazette

...  in portions of Regions 4 and 5 is a continuing decline in mule deer populations...

 the number of fawns entering the winter has been quite low indicating a significant fawn loss during summer and fall ... Over winter fawn loss typically takes another 30% or more..,


Population Dynamics of a Declining White-Tailed Deer Population in the Southern Appalachian Region of the United States

- Animals, 2023

... We examined a white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) population with evidence of decline in the Southern Appalachian region of the United States. In the Chattahoochee National Forest (CNF) in northern Georgia, deer harvest numbers and hunter success rates have drastically reduced over the last few decades ... Projections indicated that the white-tailed deer population will decline by an average of 4.0% annually under current conditions ...


With Nebraska deer season numbers down, changes are likely coming November 28, 2023 Omaha.com

... significant adjustments may be made after preliminary results from the 2023 Nebraska November firearm deer season show the statewide harvest was down 18% from 2022 and 29% from the 2018-2022 average... Lower harvest and deer populations were recorded in 2022 ..,


Endangered Sangai Deer Population Declining in Manipur Park: WII November 27, 2023 India,  Indian Masterminds

... The brow-antlered deer, also known as the Sangai, is a unique and uncommon species found only in Manipur’s Keibul Lamjao National Park ...  “The mean estimated population, which stood at 90 individuals in 2006, dropped to 76 in 2019, and in the latest estimate, it has dwindled further to 64 in 2023...


Habitat is the key for a strong deer population November 14, 2023 North Dakota, Grand Forks Herald, Doug Leier

... department biologists conducted aerial surveys on all hunting units in the state during the winter of 2023. The Wing-Tuttle monitoring block (units 2J1 and 2J2) was flown in January and again in April, and deer numbers had declined by 53% during that time period – 53% in just a few months..,


A dwindling deer population means less deer crashes for North Dakotans November 9, 2023 North Dakota, Minot-Bsmrck-Dcknsn(Wlstn) KFYR-TV

... Bill Haase, NDGF assistant wildlife division chief... .The number of vehicular deer crashes has been trending down since 2020... [from 10 years ago] habitat started to diminish ... three years ago, we had EHD, which is a disease outbreak that kills whitetail deer. Then, we had that again two years ago. Then, the severe winter ...  last winter, the storms alone cut the population down by about 50 percent...


Deer struggling to survive harsh winters November 3, 2023 Ontario,  Penticton Herald

... a shortage of deer in Thunder Bay’s rural stalking grounds haven’t been just imagining it. Provincial officials say the animals have been in decline within the city’s wilderness orbit for the better part of a decade, likely due to successive severe winters..,



Climate change alone cannot explain boreal caribou range recession in Quebec since 1850 - Global Change Biology, 2023

... . We paired historical range maps with global atmospheric reanalyses from different sources to assess the potential effects of recent climate change on the observed northward contraction of the range of boreal populations of woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) in Quebec (Canada) since 1850...  This relatively limited impact of climate reinforces the scientific consensus stating that caribou range recession in Quebec is mainly caused by anthropogenic drivers (i.e. logging, development of the road network, agriculture, urbanization) that have modified the structure and composition of the forest over the past 160 years, paving the way for habitat-mediated apparent competition and overharvesting...


Researchers say mule deer still affected by 2021 wildfires in Skeetchestn territory

September 22, 2023 British Columbia, Castanet Kamloops

... “It's the concentration of that fecal cortisol in the animal's poop that allows you to make some interpretation and say, ‘Yeah they were stressed’ ... Aside from a loss of vegetation from the wildfires, Freeman said the effects of the stress can also have physiological impacts on the declining dear population in the area...


One 'tool' in the 'toolbox' – a deep dive on conservation easements in Wyoming August 18, 2023 Wyoming Public Media

... “When I first came up the road as a little kid … there was literally 1000s of mule deer in this area.” ... that’s not the case now ... the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation basically bought the development rights to his ranch to preserve the land for wildlife...


FWP Adjusts Mule Deer Quotas In Response To Spring Surveys July 26, 2023 Montana, The Glasgow Courier

... Over the past few years, persistent drought, particularly in southeast Montana, has affected both survival and recruitment rates for mule deer. This drought has also, at times, been coupled with hard winters ... mule deer herds in southeast Montana ... recent surveys indicate the population there is 48 percent below the long-term average..,


FWP adjusts mule deer quotas in response to spring surveys July 19, 2023 Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks 

... Over the past few years, persistent drought, particularly in southeast Montana, has affected both survival and recruitment rates for mule deer. This drought has also, at times, been coupled with hard winters, making it especially difficult for fawns to survive to adulthood. The combination of these environmental factors has impacted mule deer herds in southeast Montana so much so that recent surveys indicate the population there is 48 percent below the long-term average..,


Gray wolves turn to new food source after killing off deer in Pleasant Island, Alaska July 9, 2023 Alaska, Democrat and Chronicle

... The wolf population has remained relatively stable on the high side while the deer population has suffered from severe winter conditions and over-harvesting by the wolves... Sea otters ... become the primary food source ...


Mule deer and solar farms may be on a collision course July 2, 2023 Oregon, La Grande Observer

...by the early 2000s, mule deer numbers were again on the rise. But instead of making a comeback in the new century, Oregon’s mule deer population entered a long, steady decline for the next two decades.  ... Solar farms take up vast areas of land, and that development is likely to take place in eastern Oregon’s mule deer country ...


After months of debate, DeBone, Adair torpedo mule deer plan June 27, 2023 Oregon, The Bulletin

... A plan years in the making to protect mule deer habitat in Deschutes County was abruptly canceled Monday by two county commissioners critical of the plan’s effects on property rights, though wildlife experts and conservation groups say the plan is needed to bolster declining deer populations...


One of the Largest Caribou Herds in Alaska Is Careening Toward Extinction June 26, 2023 

Sierra Club

... In the past three decades, the Mulchatna caribou herd of southwestern Alaska has gone from nearly 200,000 to 12,000 ... a group of state biologists were commissioned to study the vanishing herd. They found that the most salient reasons for the decline are disease and poor body condition, which can be attributed to a lack of food. Brucellosis, a close relative of mad cow disease, is a naturally occurring disease that causes lameness, infertility, and lower birth rates. Caribou can withstand low infection levels, but wildlife officials found that over a third of the tested animals had brucellosis..,


Michigan moose herds threatened by ticks, brain worms, the result of climate change June 22, 2023 Bridge Michigan

...  Officials counted 426 moose in the western U.P., a drop from 509 in 2019 ... Moose populations are being decimated in Minnesota, Maine, New Hampshire and other states as parasites their toll ..,


Nevada hunting curtailed as excessive snow, extreme drought diminish mule deer, bighorn sheep herds June 19, 2023 The Nevada Independent

... The number of mule deer across Nevada plummeted this year as the deer, weakened by two years of successive drought, struggled to find food sources during one of the snowiest winters on record and the sheep battle widespread disease... Now, only around 68,000 mule deer are roaming Nevada, the fewest in the state in nearly five decades... During the 1990s, roughly 200,000 ..,


Wyoming Range Winterkill Far Worse Than Thought: 80% Of Adult Deer & Nearly All Fawns Dead June 13, 2023 Cowboy State Daily

... As many as 80% of the adult deer in that region might have died and this year’s crop of fawns was essentially wiped out, Wyoming Game and Fish Director Brian Nesvik said Tuesday.  The Wyoming Range mule deer herd is one of the most prized herds in the West. Going into winter, it was thought to number about 30,000 ..,


What’s in store for the devastated Wyoming Range Deer Herd? JUne 9, 2023 WyoFile

... “We’ve been studying not just this animal, but we studied her mom and we studied her offspring,” Lasharr said. “We knew what the family was doing. Now they’re essentially gone from the population.” ...  This spring’s fawn crop would also likely struggle after being born to mothers in terrible shape. More adult deer would die, too ..,


Florida’s Key deer face tough road during hurricane season June 9, 2023 NBC20

... The historic range of Key deer has dwindled in recent decades because ... rising sea levels around the Keys swallowing up the sources of freshwater ... With so much of the population living in one location, should another major storm like 2017’s Hurricane Irma hit the middle Keys, it might be able to wipe out much of the surviving population... 


Better wildlife management for today and tomorrow June 6, 2023 British Columbia, East Kootenay News Online Weekly

... Why have our mule deer populations dropped so much? Why are there so few elk left in the high country? Why are there more white tail (pictured) in town than in the bush? The answers will cost money and will require a wildlife management regime that is dedicated to growing wildlife populations, not to maintaining the status quo ...


‘They could disappear overnight’: rare Italian deer make long journey to survival May 30, 2023 Italy, The Guardian

... The 20 animals in the crates are some of the 300 remaining Italian or Mesola red deer ...  the last indigenous red deer of the Italian peninsula. It once thrived in the interconnected forests that covered the country’s north, but centuries of hunting and habitat destruction almost eradicated it...


1,500 Big Game Carcasses At Sublette County Landfill Could Be Just The Beginning Of Gruesome Winterkill Tally May 10, 2023 Wyoming, Cowboy State Daily

... This year, winter’s withdraw is uncovering the sheer magnitude of suffering and death the vicious season brought upon big game herds, like a murder’s obscene secrets finally laid bare..,


Game and Fish announces drastic cut in deer licenses May 5, 2023 North Dakota, Grand Forks Herald

... The state's deer population is decreasing, especially in eastern hunting units...“The severity of winter conditions this year was record setting, particularly in the eastern half of the state,” ..,


Habitat is critical for wildlife to survive harsh winters like the one we just had April 30, 2023 Wyoming, Casper Star-Tribune

... As their space dwindles, though, their numbers fall... Roughly 20% of adult female pronghorn and mule deer die during an ordinary winter, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. As of April, closer to half of adult female pronghorn and one-third of adult female mule deer collared by the agency had succumbed this year ...


Thriving elk, struggling deer: Coincidence? New research suggests not April 24, 2023 Wyoming, Casper Star-Tribune

...  “In this situation, with deer and elk ... We may not be able to have robust, large populations of elk and robust, large populations of deer.” ... University of Wyoming ecology professor Kevin Monteith ... data out of this lab that show a distinct inverse correlation between the amount of body fat female muleys gain during the summertime and their proximity to elk ...


Montana FWP looking into declining mule deer populations April 22, 2023 montanarightnow

... Almost 40 percent of hunters said they would choose to hunt mule deer bucks once every several years if it meant having the opportunity to harvest a mature buck... 


Wyoming Range mule deer deaths rising April 20, 2023  Pinedale Roundup

... About 30 percent of the does in the Wyoming Range Mule Deer Herd had died by late March ... In the two weeks that followed, another 20 percent of the adult female deer in the Wyoming Range succumbed to starvation and other winter stressors ...


Poaching in Oregon threatens already fragile mule deer population April 13, 2023

Central Oregon Dail

... “Adult female survival over winter is at 70%. Modeling shows we need to be at 80% to keep a population even, so we’re trending downward. Poaching is a huge part of that,” President of the Oregon Hunters’ Association and Turn in Poachers (TIP) coordinator Steven Hagan said...


Mule deer protection proposal could restrict development in Deschutes Co. April 20, 2023 Oregon, Central Oregon Daily

... The proposed mule deer winter range combining zone could restrict some types of development on more than 100,000 acres of land... “The adult female survival rate is 70%. That is a downward trend. That’s not enough to sustain current population levels,” said Steven Hagan, President of the Oregon Hunters Association... 


As winter drags on in Minnesota, more deer will die April 6, 2023 Duluth News Tribune

... it’s not just deer that die outright that continues to keep the Arrowhead region deer herd down. Female deer that survive winter in severe areas are likely to give birth to just one fawn, or none at all, instead of the usual twins, a factor that will hold the regional population down for years to come..,


Dying By The Thousands: Miles Of Death As Wyoming Antelope, Deer And Elk Die From Winter Starvation March 30, 2023 Wyoming, Cowboy State Daily

... The wildlife winter kill in southcentral Wyoming is the worst anybody there can remember ... “Our mule deer are probably going to have 50% mortality,” ... When I fly over, they don’t even look up because they’re so weak..,


Gordon Calls Emergency Meeting To Discuss Wildlife Starvation March 30, 2023 Wyoming, Cowboy State Daily

... The Wyoming Range herd still hadn’t recovered from previous bad winters – such as those in 2011 and 2017 – when this one hit ...  “We’re going to drop below 20,000 on a herd that used to have 80,000 deer,” ..,


Remembering Maine’s Failed 1980s Attempt to Reintroduce Caribou March 31, 2023 Down East Magazine

...  market hunters slaughtered them in the 19th century. Twenty-three Newfoundland caribou released in Baxter State Park in 1963 dispersed and gradually died off. Then, in the late 1980s, a privately funded group called the Maine Caribou Project tried again, but disease, bears, and coyotes wiped out the radio-collared herd within a few years...


CPW plans to cut NW Colorado hunting licenses by more than 40% to protect challenged herds March 28, 2023 Colorado, The Denver Post

... Thousands of elk, deer and antelope have been migrating out of northwestern Colorado due to hard winter conditions and many have died of starvation ... Multiple factors including persistent summer drought conditions and above-average snowfall during the winter led to poor conditions for animals...


Mule Deer Zoning Meetings Planned March 24, 2023 Oregon, KBND

... A Deschutes County proposal would create new zoning regulations to protect mule deer habitat... "Mule deer populations have been declining in the county, and this is due to a number of reasons. Some of it is because of development, so we’re looking to explore a potential update to this area and kind of issue some regulations that would pertain to those areas, to help protect that habitat." ...


Habitat is the key to North Dakota wildlife populations March 14, 2023 Grand Forks Herald

... Today, with just roughly 1 million CRP acres on the landscape in North Dakota, the number of pheasants and deer have declined, as well... bountiful populations 15 years ago, when there were 3-plus-million Conservation Reserve Program acres on the landscape..,


Why is the Forest Service Destroying Critical Mule Deer Habitat? March 13, 2023 Montana, CounterPunch

...  Almost half of the Ashland Ranger District of the Custer-Gallatin National Forest in southeastern Montana has burned in recent wildfires. This has severely impacted mule deer habitat, resulting in a declining mule deer population which will continue to fall if the Forest Service goes forward with its proposed South Otter logging and burning project on 292,000 acres (456 sq. miles) of public lands...


Another snowy winter means fewer deer in Northeastern Minnesota March 11, 2023 Minnesota, Grand Forks Herald

... A decadelong trend toward snowy winters is holding white-tailed deer numbers down... Deep snow on the ground is an insidious killer of deer. They may not die suddenly, but their inability to move to new areas and find quality food gradually wears them down...


Wyoming Mule Deer Group Hosting Two-Day Event To Focus On Predators, Habitat Loss, Disease March 9, 2023 Cowboy State Daily

... Wyoming’s mule deer are facing threats from all sides: predators, habitat loss, shrinking food sources, disease ... “Mule deer eat less than two dozen forbs and forms of forage, whereas elk have more than 200 food sources to chose from,” ...


Ongoing study tracks 19 additional moose using GPS collars February 19, 2023 New York, Times Union

... State and university researchers are entering the second year of tracking young moose in the Adirondacks to try to figure out why the reclusive woodland giants are reducing in number...


Parks Canada monitoring Banff's declining elk population September 9, 2023 Alberta, RMOutlook.com

... 139 elk in 2022. That compares to 171 in 2021, 212 in 2020, 249 in 2019 and 267 in 2018.  While carnivores such as wolves and cougars are picking off elk and others are struck and killed by trains and vehicles, an acute clostridial bacterial disease discovered in some of Banff’s elk about three years ago continues to kill more individuals...


Why didn’t the caribou (Rangifer tarandus groenlandicus) cross the road? The barrier effect of traffic on industrial winter roads 2023 Research Square, Canada

... Barren-ground caribou are in steep decline due to the combined effects of climate change, natural population fluctuations, and anthropogenic disturbance...  Of 62 collared caribou that moved near the winter road, only 33 crossed the winter road, for a total of 100 crossing events. Caribou rarely crossed the road when any level of traffic was present ...


‘Death by a thousand clearcuts’: Canada’s deep-snow caribou are vanishing January 14, 2023 thenarwhal

... The B.C. government spends millions on extreme measures — like wolf culls and maternity pens — to support these mountain-loving herds found nowhere else in the world. Yet such efforts fail to offset the habitat destruction at the root of their disappearance ...


DNR finalizes wolf management plan, learn what it means for deer and moose in northern Minnesota January 5, 2022 Minnesota, WTIP

... Stark explains that wolf populations are driven by prey availability and what the landscape can support. He said the Minnesota landscape is at its limit with diminishing deer populations and struggling moose populations, particularly in the northeast region...


Will Minnesota's moose ever thrive again? December 31, 2022 inforum

... First it was northwestern Minnesota's moose that disappeared, in the 1990s, from thousands to virtually none over just one decade.  Then, northeastern moose numbers crashed by 70% from a modern high of 8,840 moose estimated in 2006 to just 2,700 by 2013..,


'Big ideas' proposed to help deer and elk in Aspen area December 27, 2022 Colorado, Aspen Daily News

... deer and elk populations in parts of the region are declining, the study suggests loss of habitat isn’t the issue. "Forage quality does not appear to be a limiting factor ... The large landscape that provides good habitat in the watershed has been fragmented by major highways and smaller secondary roads ...


Why I Think We're Overhunting Mule Deer December 24, 2022 Wide Open Spaces

...  mule deer are seeing a general population decline, and people have been talking about it for decades...  Fawn productivity has declined across most of the United States and harsh western winters haven't helped... With so many factors that can influence mule deer population, the one most under our control is limiting mule deer harvests. States such as South Dakota have seen an increase of herd population after restrictions have been placed ...


Sublette mule deer trigger PAPO wildlife matrix December 22, 2022 Wyoming, Pinedale Roundup

... The Sublette Mule Deer Herd’s population in the Anticline’s winter range is an annual concern magnified this year, when comparing the 2008 baseline of 2,856 to February infrared flights showing only 1,787 animals present ... The Sublette Mule Deer Herd has an estimated total population of 21,802 animals, down 10 percent from the 2008 baseline of 24,165 animals ...


Reindeer Vs. Caribou: What's the Difference? December 21, 2022 Mental Floss

... Caribou and reindeer belong to the same genus, Rangifer... a 2022 study in the journal ZooKeys by Dr. Lee Harding, a Canadian mammologist, argued that these subspecies are so different from each other that they actually deserve their own species designation...Russia’s overall reindeer population fell by 21 percent between 1990 and 2015, while the last wild caribou population in the contiguous United States became functionally extinct in the late 2010s ...


Should South Dakota's East River deer season be shorter? Mitchell man petitions yes  December 7, 2022 YAHOO!News

... The GFP website says South Dakota deer hunting seasons have occurred regularly since the 1950s, with deer hunters harvesting approximately 95,000 deer during the record year of 2010. More recently, due to diseases, statewide white-tail deer harvest has hovered around 45,000...


Aerial reseeding of crucial watershed hopes to improve habitat in Central Utah November 30, 2021 Utah, Fox 13

...the project began with mulching juniper trees which had overcrowded other vegetation. Another phase involved ‘reseeding’ the area ...  interest in improving the deer population in this specific area after years of decline...


Four Deschutes National Forest winter wildlife range closures go into effect amid declining deer population November 29, 2022 Oregon, KTVZ

... Local mule deer populations have declined 56% between 2004 and 2021. Human disturbance of deer and elk during the winter can cause the animals to flee, which expends energy from the reserves they’re relying on to survive through winter and to successfully provide for young in the spring...


How we’re shrinking animals, with red deer under threat while rats and parakeets should thrive November 25, 2022 United Kindom, The i

... Multiple studies have reached the same conclusion – that climate change and other human activity are leading both to animals within the same species becoming smaller in size, and to bigger animals declining ... In the UK researchers have suggested this could mean a threat to deer and eagles; while rats and parakeets continue to prosper...


Upper Peninsula hunters want more control over natural resource policy November 21, 2022 Michigan,  Interlochen Public Radio

... Tom Baird is chair of the NRC. He said there’s no conclusive evidence that wolves really are to blame for the U.P.’s shrinking deer population.  ... “The two factors that seem to be weighing very heavily are weather and habitat,” said Baird. He said extreme cold and a lack of food in the forests are believed to be the main causes of deer mortality in the winter and spring months...


Game and Fish launches 5-year mule deer monitoring project November 21, 2022 Wyoming Game and Fish News

...  Biologists at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department ... are well aware weather, habitat and chronic wasting disease affect Wyoming’s mule deer populations. These environmental factors play a significant role in the population fluctuation of mule deer. But in the last 30 years, mule deer populations have declined to a point that is worrisome to wildlife managers and the public.


State lawmakers can help solve elk management November 14, 2022 Montana, The Montana Standard

... Montana is suffering from reduced habitat quality on public lands, particularly in the northwest part of the state which has suffered elk population declines, increased predation on elk, and a lack of habitat diversity. Meanwhile many private lands in eastern and central Montana are withering under prolonged drought which has stressed land productivity...


Ketchikan's tribe asks federal board to expand subsistence hunting and fishing opportunities October 24, 2022 Alaska, KRBD

... on Prince of Wales Island, where there’s widespread concern about deer populations, some aren’t so sure opening the island to more hunting and fishing is a good idea. Earlier this month, wildlife and conservation agencies held a three-day summit to discuss the problems facing the island’s dwindling deer population...


Can Wildlife and Clean Energy Coexist in the West October 14, 2022 Wyoming, Outdoor Life

...  drilling in the Pinedale Anticline natural gas field was being proposed for 198,000 acres of sagebrush habitat in western Wyoming in the 1990s. The mule deer herds in the area took a massive hit in the years that followed the project...


Mule Deer Foundation Partners with Arizona Game & Fish, Arizona Deer Association to Focus on Kaibab Plateau October 6, 2022, Arizona, Mule Deer Foundation News

... “The Arizona Strip and North Kaibab are legendary mule deer areas that have seen some population impacts due to years of extreme drought and declining habitat conditions,” commented Mule Deer Foundation President/CEO Joel Pedersen. “The Mule Deer Foundation is excited to work with our partners at Arizona Game and Fish and Arizona Deer Association ...


The Dreadful Toll of Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions — and What We Can Do About It October 4, 2022 Wyoming, governing.com

...In Wyoming, for example, the mule deer population, which supports more than $300 million in annual hunting-related spending in the state, has decreased by 40 percent since 2000, due in large part to habitat fragmentation caused by roads and development ...


There is still time to reconcile forest management with climate-driven declines in habitat suitability for boreal caribou. Global Ecology and Conservation, 2022

... Many boreal populations of woodland caribou in Canada are declining, mainly due to the prevalence of anthropogenic disturbances which alter predator-prey dynamics. Climate change is expected to exert an additional negative influence on caribou populations in coming decades ... We show that reducing harvest activities in areas where habitat suitability is currently high could help maintain high-quality caribou habitat even under the most intense climate change scenario...


Majestic moose; more reclusive than their deer friends September 18, 2022 British Columbia, Columbia Valley Pioneer

... for reasons unknown, over the last decade there has been a significant decline in their population in the central interior region of British Columbia. Studies show that the population of moose in this region have declined by approximately 27,500 since 2011...


Mule deer numbers find new normal as CPW works to address challenges September 18, 2022 Colordado, The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

...  in the Meeker area, that herd alone was estimated to have more than 100,000 deer in the early 1980s, but in the decade before the new plan’s approval hadn’t exceeded 40,000 animals...  they have biologically and ecologically stabilized at a lower population level ...


Mule Deer Palooza Planned In Wyoming To Raise Money For Mule Deer Conservation Projects August 22, 2022 Wyoming, Cowboy State Daily

... Habitat fragmentation and disruption of mule deer migration routes between summer and winter ranges have been among the biggest challenges facing mule deer in Wyoming and across the West. Disease, particularly chronic wasting disease, has also been a factor in mule deer decline ...


CPW may cut mule deer population goal in Glade Park herd, keep status quo for others August 16, 2022 Colorado, The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

... the Glade Park herd is a “very small herd” that takes in the Glade Park/Piñon Mesa/McInnis Canyons area, reaching the Utah border... the herd has been consistently below population objectives for about 25 years.  “We have not been able to get that population up,” ...


The tangled web of wildlife management  June 25, 2022 Ohio, The Courier

... there were no whitetail deer in Ohio. Extirpated by 1911 by lack of both seasonal limits and restraint ... In 1922, wildlife officials began restocking wild deer from neighboring states ... Deer populations are down all over the place on national forest land as an artifact of restricted active forest management, and research ..,


Caribou threatened: the forestry industry proposes to bet on hunting predators June 3, 2022 Quebec, The Bobr Times

... The caribou are in decline in Quebec... “The CIFQ recommends prioritizing predator management measures to reduce early caribou mortality, before considering costly and highly disadvantageous road dismantling measures.” ...


A Wilder View: Wolves impacting deer and moose behaviors in important way May 26, 2022 Montana, KPAX

... "We began researching moose population decline over a decade ago and discovered that brain worm is the primary driver of adult mortality,” said Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Director of Biology and Environment Seth Moore.  About 25% of moose die from this parasite...


Efforts Intensify to Save the Huemul, South America’s Endangered Deer  May 26, 2022 Field & Stream

...  the real danger is that no one will ever see one again if something isn’t done. Which is why efforts to save the huemul are now intensifying in Chile and Argentina, in response to the species’ decline to dangerously low population levels ...


Efficacy and ethics of intensive predator management to save endangered caribou - Conservation Science and Practice, 2022

... in Canada. Across multiple jurisdictions, large numbers of wolves (Canis lupus), and to a lesser extent bears (Ursus

americanus) and coyotes (C. latrans), are killed through trapping, poisoning or aerial shooting to halt or reverse continued declines of woodland caribou ...


Wyoming Wildlife Task Force recommends splitting white-tailed, mule deer licenses  May 20, 2022 The Sheridan Press

... Commenters also expressed concern about how the change could put more hunting pressure on mule deer populations, which have been in decline statewide... As of the 2020 job completion report, mule deer population in the Powder River region in Sheridan County was estimated at 34,050, which was slightly below the previous five-year average of 36,533...


Deschutes County Community Development proposes land rezoning to protect Mule deer population May 17, 2022 Oregon, KTVZ

... According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the mule deer population decreased about 40% near Metolius and about 30% near Paulina in a recent three-year testing period... recommends that certain uses be prohibited or limited to protect the mule deer winter range habitats...


Deer disease in North Dakota cuts into hunter success, license numbers  May 13, 2022 The Bismarck Tribune

...  The impact of the disease stretched over most of western and central North Dakota ... North Dakota has experienced a loss of wildlife habitat in recent years due to oil development and reduced grassland areas resulting from changes in farming practices. That has resulted in annual license numbers essentially being cut in half from the heyday of deer populations in the mid-2000s..,


Utah, Wyoming, and Oregon Are Cutting Big Game Tags Due to Drought Conditions. Will Other States Follow? May 8, 2022 Outdoor Life

... One of the biggest reasons behind these decreasing populations and lower allotment of tags is the growing presence of drought throughout the American West. The latest maps show roughly 70 percent of lands in the West are facing severe to extreme drought conditions, according to the U.S Drought Monitor...


Mule Deer in New Mexico 2022.  College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University

...  In general, mule deer have been declining in numbers in New Mexico since populations peaked around the 1960s, similar to declines seen throughout the West (Heffelfinger and Messmer, 2003). Because of population declines, harvests of mule deer have also declined; deer harvests (mostly mule deer), estimated to be as high as 55,000 in 1960, declined to <10,000 in 2013. Despite declines, mule deer are still present in all 33 counties in New Mexico...


Drought Leads to Fewer Pronghorn and Mule Deer Tags April 29, 2022 Wyoming, Field & Stream

... The worsening drought comes on top of outbreaks of CWD and EHD in the state  ... Last year’s [2021] post-hunt ... estimate of 291,700 mule deer was 61 percent of the statewide goal..,


Utah Wildlife Board approves decrease in general-season deer permits for 2022 April 29, 2022 Utah Division of Wildlife Resources News 

... The current management plan includes an objective to have just over 400,000 deer across Utah — there are currently an estimated 305,700 deer in the state.  “We’ve had several years of drought and are still facing ongoing extreme drought conditions statewide, which has a significant impact on the survival rates of deer,” DWR Big Game Coordinator Covy Jones said..,


Whitetail hunting in jeopardy April 7, 2022 Washington, Whitman County Gazette

... The Northeast Washington Wildlife Group believes that our whitetail deer are in trouble and their numbers have dropped to the point that recovery is impossible given the direction state.  Region 1 game managers and the Fish and Wildlife Commission has taken...


Wyo to target elk, large carnivores to aid reeling mule deer  April 5, 2022 Wyoming, WyoFile

... doesn’t see large-scale predator control as a silver bullet to turning the corner on mule deer numbers, which have fallen statewide from a high of over 500,000 in the early 2000s to just over 300,000 today ... pilot projects will target elk, which have thrived and trended in the opposite direction as mule deer, growing from about 90,000 animals in the early 2000s to 110,000-plus today ..,


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