Kansas Deer Population:    A reported 699,400 deer in 2023 and a state estimate of 36,600 mule deer down from 51,400 mule deer in 2022..  About 707,000 deer in 2021 with 665,000 whitetails and 42,000 mule deer.  A rough estimate from the state of 700,000 in 2020.  The total population is up from an estimated 674,000 in 2019 and 636,000 deer pre-hunt in 2016.  About 678,000 pre-hunt in 2015 and 627,000 deer pre-hunt in 2014.   The herd was virtually extinct from 1900 into the 1950's.   The recent population peak was around the year 2000.  

Kansas Deer News

Kansas lawmakers work toward wildlife and parks commission change April 30, 2024 Kansas Reflector

... House Bill 2530 would dissolve the current commission ... The bill comes after the commission floated restricting bait feeding on private land. Bait feeding, currently banned on public land, is the practice of attracting deer to food ... 

Kansas lawmakers angle to undercut governor by overhauling state wildlife and parks commission March 8, 2024 Kansas Reflector

... Consternation about possible ban on feeding deer on private land triggers backlash  ... The commission’s interest in the ethics of baiting deer and creating for wildlife a fair-chase environment was interpreted as a financial threat to the hunting industry in Kansas and inspired lobbying at the Capitol to tilt commission appointments toward people vested in maintaining a business-like approach...

Kansas wildlife agency could lose millions of dollars amid fight over deer baiting February 16, 2024 KCUR 89.3 FM

... a lawmaker’s threat to defund the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks because the agency is considering a ban on baiting deer with piles of food... he owns a hunting lodge that can use deer baiting to improve hunting opportunities...

Chronic Wasting Disease, Deer disease cuts down trophy buck population in Kansas February 13, 2024 Kansas, Yahoo

... The first positive case was detected in 2005 in Cheyenne County ... Hesting said it won’t be surprising to see upwards of 80% of deer in some areas to be infected with CWD ... some areas at or close to that 80% now ...

Wildlife officials euthanize ‘Bucky’ the friendly deer in Hutchinson December 8, 2023 Kansas, Wichita-Hutchinson Plus KWCH-DT

...  Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks... opted to euthanize a deer, known as Bucky, that the community had grown to love... after a call on Dec. 5 where “a habituated white-tailed buck was aggressively pursuing an unarmed male resident.” ...

Kan. game warden fires shot to free deer locked by the horns November 8, 2023 Kansas, Salina Post

...  two bucks that were locked together from fighting ... One of the bucks was dead but the other was still alive and full of energy. In order to save the deer that was still alive, Game Warden Colter Silhan used a slug from his shotgun to shoot the antlers of the deer and separate them.  Video on Facebook

Headless deer spurs hunt for suspected poacher northwest of Americus November 6, 2023 Kansas, Topeka WIBW-TV

...  they said they found a headless deer in a field... Anyone with information about the crime should report it to Game Warden Scheve at 620-431-9873...

Deer crashes at 6-year-high, likely to increase  November 1, 2023 Kansas, Peabody Gazette-Bulletin 

... Kansas is home to an estimated 699,400 deer, the vast majority of them being whitetails. That population is down slightly from its peak in 2000... Deer seldom travel alone, so drivers who see one deer should be especially alert for others that might be traveling with them..,

Kreed the Conservation Dog Is a Poacher's Worst Nightmare October 6, 2023 Kansas, Yahoo

... When he approached, he found Kreed sitting obediently next to the steaming body of a mule deer doe... KDWPT announced that the suspect recently settled in court after pleading guilty for hunting without written permission from a landowner and shooting a deer without a license...

A Kansas lawmaker threatens the wildlife department over deer baiting, raising ethics concerns September 28, 2023 KCUR 89.3 FM

... A Republican lawmaker threatened to strip funding from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks if it bans people from baiting deer with piles of food... Kansas is in a shrinking minority of states that still allow baiting. Chronic wasting disease is a key factor ...

Should Kansas ban deer baiting? Chronic wasting disease, fair chase raise hunting concerns September 21, 2023 Kansas, Yahoo

... . "What we hope to be able to do is to make that information known to everybody that would like to see it and also make some recommendations about ways that people can make sure that their animals are fed without creating the kind of hazard that dumping a bucket of corn on the ground does ...

Kansas lets hunters bait deer. Most states don't. A disease might make Kansas change.  August 22, 2023 Kansas, KCUR 89.3 FM

... Wildlife commissioners hope restricting the popular practice could slow the spread of chronic wasting disease ... In northwest Kansas, biologists estimate at least one-third of 2.5-year-old bucks now have the fatal disease..,

Should Kansas Ban Baiting for Deer? August 10, 2023 Yahoo

... the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks on July 3, the agency said it had “taken the first steps in what will be a multi-year exploration of issues surrounding baiting wildlife.” They cited growing concerns about the potential connection between baiting deer and the continued spread of chronic wasting disease..,

Kansas bans trail cams on state grounds April 27, 2023 Beatrice Daily Sun

... On March 9, 2023, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KWDP) voted to prohibit use of both cellular and conventional trail cameras on all public lands in the state. This move aligns them with 14 other states banning trail camera use in some capacity ...

Kansas Game Warden saves buck after 2 become antler-locked in Franklin Co. February 6, 2023 MSN

... one had unfortunately died.  With a shotgun and a slug round, Twellmann said he was able to separate the pair and free the live buck ...

Seven Kansas Non-profits Awarded Big Game Permits for Fundraising January 27, 2023 Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks

... The Commission Big Game Permit program – which the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks began in 2006 – allows Kansas chapters of eligible non-profit organizations to apply for one of seven big game permits, which can then be sold to raise funds for pre-approved conservation projects in the Sunflower State.  One elk, one antelope or up to seven deer permits are made available ...

Emporia, Officials investigate third deer poaching in just as many months near Emporia January 17, 2023 Kansas, wibw.com 

...  the latest incident happened on Jan. 9 near Roads M and 155 - just southeast of Emporia...

Authorities try to determine who shot seven deer found dead last week in Washington County January 9, 2023 Kansas, The Topeka Capital-Journal

... The deer were thought to have been killed late Jan. 2 or early Jan. 3, according to a Facebook site maintained by KDWP game wardens...

Stuck deer rescued from muddy pond in Kansas November 18, 2022  UPI News 

... Perez arrived to find the deer's legs were stuck in mud at the bottom of the pond, leaving its body half-submerged in the freezing water...

Out-of-state deer hunters are pursuing big bucks in Kansas. Should it let more of them in? October 27, 2022 Kansas, Yahoo! Sports

... "Each one of those deer hunters comes in, they spend time at the hotel, they purchase at least two meals a day," ... whitetail bucks with huge antlers had been shot in October 2021 in Kansas by a 10-year-old girl and a 27-year-old man...

Get ready for a Big Hunt on the Prairie October 4, 2022 Kiowa County Signal

... Mule deer stick to the western one-third of the state, mostly in the High Plains, Smoky Hills and Red Hills regions.  As you head east, you see more white-tailed deer...

Kansas data:  A state estimate of about 700,000 deer in 2020, stable to slightly increasing, which is consistent with hunting data, for an estimate of about 707,000 in 2021.  A reported estimate of 699,400 deer in total for 2023.   The state estimated 36,600 mule deer in 2023, 51,400 in 2022, and 41,700 in 2021. 

The population estimates in the graph below are based on information from the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks and news sources. The 2000 to 2004 total and whitetail populations and 2000 to 2005 mule deer populations are estimated using hunting data.  Spreadsheet

Over this period the mule deer population has averaged about 7% of the total.  The graph below shows just the mule deer population to provide more clarity about how their population has changed.  Spreadsheet

Reduced permits recommended for 2021-22.   The state commented in 2022 that :"Mule deer populations continue to decline along the eastern tier of counties where mule deer occur in Kansas... resulting in a pre-firearm season total population estimate  of 41,700 mule deer...The low reproduction rate of mule deer in Kansas is a concerning trend."    Mule deer occupy the western one-third of the state, mostly in the High Plains, Smoky Hills and Red Hills regions with whitetails int he east.

 An estimate of more than 620,000 whitetail deer in 2019 and 53,600 mule deer for a total of about 674,000 in 2019.  An increase in applications for nonresident deer permits in 2019.  Summer rains in 2016 improved fawn survival, increasing the deer population to a state estimate of about 636,000 pre-hunt.  About the same in 2018 and  2017.  Mule deer population estimates from 51,000 in 2015 to 53,400 in 2021.

A 2018 study to look at the westward shift and possible decline of mule deer populations.  Some foot-rot disease in 2017.  Fire killed about 5 percent of deer in Unit 16 in 2016.  In 2014 and 2015, the state reduced antlerless tags and the number of days in the hunting season to increase the population and bringing the 2015 whitetail population to around 630,000 - 650,000 pre-hunt, a slow increase.   The population was below carrying capacity in 2015.  About 600,000 whitetail deer estimated pre-hunt in 2014 and 2013.   The population was trending down after three years of drought and reduced habitat resulting from less land in the Conservation Reserve Program. 

 In 2015 an estimated mule deer population of 51,000.  The decline continued into 2016, although there were good rainfall and food sources that year, with a rough estimate of 50,000.  To support populations, significant reductions in mule deer permits for 2015 in eastern zones, some reductions in the west.  Further reductions in 2016.  Densest deer populations in the southeast of the state. 

Hunting data was used to make some of the population estimates.  The graph below illustrates the historic deer harvest data taken from Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT), 1965 to 2020.

Total population after hunting estimated at 511,000 in 2012 after hunting, 550,000 in 2010. A significant outbreak of EHD in 2012, bringing average trend over the past several years down, particularly in southwest Kansas. Drought 2010 to 2012.  Hunter success around 58% in 2014.  Increasing geographic fragmentation of deer populations and increasing predatory pressure from coyotes.  Mule deer are mostly in west Kansas with whitetails more in the east.

Although mule deer were common in western Kansas by the late 1980s they are rare in many of those areas.  In general, the Kansas deer population is below carrying capacity.  Western Kansas has more CRP land and better habitat.  The rut peaks in Kansas around November 13.  The record harvest in 2001 is attributed to an significant increase in doe permits after speeds were increased on Kansas highway, resulting in more deer vehicle collisions, and an effort to reduce the deer population.

Data Issues:  The deer harvest has fallen since the 642,000 population estimate from the state for 2016 with a smaller decrease in the number of permits issued.  A 2010 estimate based on an interview with the Kansas program manager of 350,000

Chronic Wasting Disease    The first case of CWD was found in a captive bull elk in Harper County in 2001.  First deer detected with CWD was in northwestern Kansas in 2005.  At the end of the 2018-19 deer season, 216 deer had test positive.   As of Dec. 3, 2018, 184 positive cases.   As of November, 2016, 136 had tested positive, 80 percent in Rawlins and Sheridan counties.

By 2020, 32 counties were infected.   In 2020, the first documented positive case in eastern Kansas and the first in a captive herd since 2001. Spreading to the south and east, a wildlife biologists forecasts that deer populations could be drastically reduced in coming decades.  By the end of 2021, 30,000 deer had been tested with about 548 that have been positive.  At the end of the 2021-22 hunting season 738 deer had tested positive.  In 2023 the state considered banning deer baiting after detection in 738 cervids since first discovered in 2001—all but three of which were free-ranging whitetails.

History  Prior to settlement there were large herds of mule deer and white-tails were abundant in the timbered areas of eastern Kansas.  "Lewis and Clark did report, in 1804, of seeing a large concentration of deer near the present site of Kansas City. Zebulon Pike found deer in east central Kansas. In 1806, Captain George A. McCall described the deer population in the vicinity of Fort Scott as plentiful."  (from Deer in Kansas, p. 4).   Taylor and Elder report "Deer were common along wooded portions of streams and in large timbered areas as late as 1875 (Knox, 1875). Lantz (1905) reported deer as common until 1884 but considered them extinct by 1904."  By 1904 all big game animals had been hunted to virtual extinction in the state.  

Kansas was one of the last states to restore the deer population, the only state without deer in 1947.  Sightings began in the 1950s.   An estimated 30,000 deer in 1965, the year of the first modern deer season,  after efforts to restore the deer population; deer harvest of 1504 with almost 4,000 licenses issued.  The 2013 harvest was 89,664 deer. About 52.6 percent of the white-tails were antlerless, 15.9% of the mule deer.  About 123,195 deer hunters that season.  

Elk population of about 10,000, many in eastern Kentucky.

 Moose, one sighted in 2019, traveling down from Nebraska.  The last sighting was in the 1980s.

 Mountain Lions were gone from the state by the early 1900's, 13 verified sightings from 2007 to 2015.  Twenty confirmed sightings to 2019.

Other useful links:

Report Sick and dead deer for KDWPT at this link: surveymonkey.com/s/WHZKVNS 

- Kansas Chronic Wasting Disease Map    - Kansas Deer and Elk Facebook page

- Deer Damage Control Guidelines, Department of Wildlife 

- Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks    - Map of Reno County Deer Accidents