Two Websites Report a U.S. Deer Population of about 25 Million. Check the Math.


In the fall of 2020 a Cornell University website about "Deer Populations" added a line that "Today there are over 25 million deer in the United States and the numbers are rising." This number conflicts with the many sources Deer Friendly has gathered over years so an email was sent to the site offering to share data. No reply. The other site with this number corrected their estimate.


At the beginning of 2022 another site, Wildlife Informer, also reported a total U.S. deer population of around 25 million.

The site provides state by state estimates using mostly the same sources collected by Deer Friendly in a daily internet search, so the state numbers on both sites are the same or similar. While Wildlife Informer put the estimate for the total deer population at 25 million, Deer Friendly had it at 33.5 million for 2017. How can the total be so different?


Check the math. If you add up the 50 state numbers on the Wildlife Informer site, you get a much higher number than 25 million so we emailed the site asking them to check the math. They did and updated the number to 35 to 36 million. Their estimate is not directly comparable to Deer Friendly which provides an estimate for a specific year while Wildlife Informer's data was taken from sources over the period 2015 to 2021, but the numbers are similar for the year 2020 based on our current as yet unpublished estimate (still checking some data).


Where did the 25 million number on the Wildlife Informer's website come from? They may have may have relied on the population 25 million number from the Cornell site since it is often thought to be a reliable source. It is true the population is over 25 million. That has been true for over 25 years, but it implies a current population around 25 million. The Cornell site provides a 1997 reference at the bottom of the page, but the reference does not include a population estimate.


This is not the first dubious deer information from Cornell -- see another example. They have been advocates of commercial deer hunting (see page 27). Promoting the idea of deer problems advances this goal so the focus of their web page is how to deal with the increasing deer population even although the all of the data collected by Deer Friendly shows that the U.S. population is still below the peak from around the year 2000 and is about the same as prior to European colonization.


Below Are Examples of Two Websites Asserting a U.S. Deer Population of about 25 million. Screenshots below showing this information were taken in February, 2022.


Cornell Site Estimates U.S. Deer Population at Over 25 Million.

Below is the Result of a February, 2022, Google Search


Wildlife Informer Website Estimates the U.S. Deer Population at 25 Million, Although Their State Data Sums to a Higher Number

Below a screenshot from their site taken in February, 2022

Wildlife Informer Updates the Population Estimate

Thanks to Wildlife Informer for checking the data and updating the estimate.

With a sample of 29 states a report for the U.S. Forest Service made this estimate for the U.S. whitetail population (P. 18). A digitized data from this graph, see below, puts the 2010 population at about 22.9 million. The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies report in 2021 a mule and black-tailed deer population of around 3.5 million. That would make the total deer population around 26.1 assuming no increase in the white-tailed population from 2010 leaving the 21 states not sampled for the report with no white-tailed deer if the Cornell number were correct.

United States Forest Service Estimated White-tailed Deer Population