Florida Deer:    An estimated 570,000 deer in 2021, down from about 650,000 deer in 2017.  Hunting data indicates significant declines in 2018 and 2020 with an increase in 2021.  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 2014.  An estimated 45,000 to 50,000 deer in 1951. 

Florida Deer News

FWC seeks meat processors and taxidermists to join fight against CWD June 10, 2024 Florida, FWC News

     The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is seeking meat processors and taxidermists from select counties to help test for chronic wasting disease. Partners in this program play a critical role in helping the FWC determine how many CWD-positive deer are in Florida and how much the disease has spread throughout the state...

Another donor ponies up big for hunting and fishing rights ballot initaitve May 8, 2024  Florida Politics

... “We are thrilled to announce a contribution of $250,000 to the ‘Yes on 2!’ Committee in Florida, advocating for the passage of the constitutional right to fish and hunt amendment,” said Luke Hilgemann, CEO of T. Roosevelt Action and national chair of Yes on 2...

Woman's 'Highly Unusual' Pneumonia Caused by Parasite-Tainted Deer Meat May 3, 2024 Florida, Yahoo

... detailed this week in the New England Journal of Medicine ... the 32-year-old Florida resident visited an emergency room ... the woman had recently prepared a deer carcass collected from her boyfriend’s hunting trip in Alabama. The woman cooked, served, and ate the venison ... tests came back positive for T. gondii ...  her blood was chock full of the parasite ...

Ormond Beach deer injured after getting plastic piece stuck in its hoof 

April 27, 2024 Florida, FOX 35 Orlando

... FWC ... said they are not going to intervene at this time because it could do more harm than good to trap and tranquilize the young deer...

Climate change threatens habitat of Key Deer, other native species April 22, 2024 Florida, CBS News

... habitat continues to shrink as seas rise and transition to a saltwater habitat. This means less food and water for the deer.  It's a problem that those in the Keys are facing along with the deer themselves...

FWC issues executive order with new CWD regulations for 2024-25 deer season April 17, 2024 Florida Fish and Wildlife  News

... the FWC issued a new executive order outlining regulations designed to increase sampling and slow the spread of chronic wasting disease in Florida deer. Existing regulations pertaining to the establishment of the CWD Management Zone, prohibition of rehabilitating or releasing injured or orphaned deer, feeding restrictions, and prohibition of exporting high-risk parts remain in effect...

Florida will continue to monitor a deer disease even after no detection this year April 12, 2024 WMNF

... Wildlife officials have not found any other deer infected with fatal chronic wasting disease after one tested positive last year in Northwest Florida...   more than 1,300 samples taken statewide since June...,

Key deer fawning season has started April 10, 2024 Florida, Key West Citizen

... While late April/early May has typically been the time when Key deer start giving birth to fawns, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuges manager staff in the Keys have already seen the first fawn of the season ...

Key Deer Awareness Day: A story of vulnerability and resilience March 11, 2024 Florida, earth on MSN

... This particular date was selected to commemorate the moment in 1967 when Key deer were officially recognized as being endangered... these deer migrated to the Florida Keys from the mainland ... between 6,000 and 12,000 years ago the melting of the Wisconsin Glacier abruptly raised sea levels... transformed a once-unified peninsula into a series of isolated islands ...

Fatal Chronic Wasting Disease In Florida Deer, Limited To One Case February 22, 2024 Florida, Tampa Free Press on MSN

... a deer killed in June in Holmes County tested positive ... from 1,000 tests from this past season and before, we still only have one positive (chronic wasting disease) case ..,

Image of slain deer decked out in Christmas lights sparks state investigation January 19, 2024 Florida, Yahoo

... A deer with Christmas lights caught up in its antlers was killed shortly after a resident posted a picture of the animal prancing around a northern Leon County neighborhood ... proudly holding up the head of the slain deer ...

A novel bluetongue virus serotype 2 strain isolated from a farmed Florida white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) arose from reassortment of gene segments derived from co-circulating serotypes in the Southeastern USA

PHO Viadanna, A Surphlis, AC Cheng, CE Dixon… - Virus Genes, 2024

,,, This report documents the clinical findings, ancillary diagnostics, and genomic characterization of a novel reassortant bluetongue virus serotype 2 (BTV-2) strain isolated from a dead Florida farmed WTD in 2022. Our analyses support that this BTV-2 strain likely stemmed from the acquisition of genome segments from co-circulating BTV strains in Florida and Louisiana...

The One With A Deer Crossing January 6, 2024 Florida, The Trek

... Locals take great pride in their Key Deer population.  One way of showing this, busy intersections show the number of deer killed by automobiles in the past and current year...

Local hunters want to keep rights after Chronic Wasting Disease arrives in Florida January 4, 2024 Florida, Panama City WJHG-TV on MSN.com

... Hunters say they are concerned about more regulations and restrictions that might come if a deer they shoot comes back positive for CWD.  “Hunters don’t want to participate because they don’t want FWC [getting] into their business,” said Watford..,

Central Florida man accused of intentionally running over deer for TikTok video December 29, 2023 Florida, YAHOO!News

... charged with five counts of animal cruelty for driving his truck at the deer with the intent of striking them with it, and one count of animal cruelty for the deer deputies say he did hit...

FWC Changes Policy in Response to Outrage Over Killing of Deer December 8, 2023 Florida,  FlaglerLive

... Palm Coast residents indignant at the euthanizing of a domesticated deer by throat-slitting in early October addressed the Dec. 5 meeting of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and got what appeared to be an immediate response: FWC ... has changed its euthanizing policy to prevent similar outcomes in future...

Mandatory deer check station weekend December 9-10 in Holmes, Jackson and Washington counties December 7, 2023 Florida, FWC News

... all deer harvested in Holmes, Jackson and Washington counties must be checked at a staffed FWC check station.  Following confirmation of a positive test in June 2023 for CWD in a white-tailed deer in Holmes County, the FWC issued new executive orders outlining regulations designed to increase sampling and slow the spread of CWD in Florida deer...

A tiny deer and rising seas: How far should people go to save an endangered species? November 12, 2023 Florida, Jefferson Public Radio

... Open pine forest with dense underbrush, the deer's preferred habitat, only exists where saltwater can't reach. Between development and sea-level rise, pine rockland has been reduced to only about 2% of the deer's historic range in South Florida... "If you move the Key deer to a series of zoos like people have done with pandas and other endangered species, you can do that and keep them going, but at what cost and to what end?" ...

Florida Data  Numbers from the deer hunt have been on a general decline since 2008, down about 62 percent by 2019.  Florida doesn't provide deer population estimates. For 2015 to 2021 populations were estimated from the deer hunt data using the buck kill and a estimate of 700,000 deer in 2014 from the University of Florida ExtensionA 2021 article reporting the Florida 2020 deer population at 700,000 is quoting this source which actually refers to the 2014 population.  

As summarized in the table below, about 570,000 in 2021, up from about 531,000 deer in 2019, down from about 650,000 in 2017 and.   

Comments from the state indicate an approximately steady population through 2018 with lower populations in thee Big Bend region, south Florida, and Zone A. The decline in the deer harvest is attributed somewhat to fewer hunters, but the number of hunters increased from 98,000 in 2017 to 107,000 in 2021, an increase of about 9 percent.  In 2020, the pandemic year, there were an estimated 123,492 hunters. Reports indicate 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.

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.

Estimated Population

Year   Population

2014   700,000

2015   662,000

2016   612,000

2017   650,000

2018   516,000

2019   531,000

2020   476,000

2021   570,000

(2014 Population estimated by U of FL Extension.  Other years based on buck harvest)

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 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 were 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.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) In March, 2023, a deer was suspected in North Escambia. the state had tested nearly 1700 deer since 2002.  The first confirmed positive was reported in June, 2023, a road-killed 4.5-year-old female white-tailed deer in Holmes County sampled during routine surveillance activities tested positive for chronic wasting disease.  Testing continues in 2014.


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 Deer Management Plan.   The deer population was estimated at 750,000 in 1990.

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.  Key deer were spread throught the Florida Keys when the first Europeans arrived in the 1500s.  In 1939 a bill was signed to protect them, but there were only 25 to 50 Key deer were left by 1950 after hunting. In 1953 a plan with agreed upon to protect key deer.  Less than 50 in 1967 when they 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.  Less than 1,000 in 2021.  A 2022 research paper put the total at 748.   In 2019 there were discussions 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 

Other useful links:

- Florida Department of Environmental Protection

- Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC)

- Deer Management in North Florida

- History of Deer Management in Florida

- Modeling spatial use patterns of white-tailed deer in the Florida Everglades (2000)