North Carolina Deer Population      An estimated population of about one million deer in 2016 to 2018.  About the same in 2019 through 2021.  Lower populations in the east, higher in the west. A reduced doe hunt for 2017 given that the 2016 hunt, 11.2 percent below the 10 year average, indicated a population decline.  An estimated 1,165,000 deer in early 2015.  About one million deer in 2014.  Deer population estimated at 1.2 to 1.35 million in 2011.  Herd analysis at right.  


North Carolina Deer News

Baby deer was dehydrated and had injured nose. NC wildlife rehabilitators have it now.  May 31, 2024 North Carolina, The Herald-Sun on MSN

... when ARC Officer Karen Rogers saw the fawn had an injured nose and ears showing signs of dehydration, she knew the “bustling downtown area,” was not safe for the baby deer ...The center contacted Holly’s Nest Wildlife Rehabilitation ...


NC Wildlife Resources Commission Reports Additional Cases of Chronic Wasting Disease April 17, 2024 North Carolina, NC Wildlife

... The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) is confirming 13 new cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from deer samples submitted since July 1, 2023. This brings the total number of positive results in North Carolina to 24, since the disease was first detected in a Yadkin County deer harvested in 2021... CWD-positive deer were not detected in any new counties during the 2023-24 season ..,


Town of Matthews leaders attempting to control the deer population. March 25, 2024 North Carolina, WCNC-TV Charlotte on MSN.com

... plans included shooting deer or giving them contraceptives, with leaders instead finally agreeing to focus on educating the community about the wildlife while also investing $4,000 towards a head count of the deer population...


New WNC black bear, deer hunting seasons pass despite public disapproval March 5, 2024 North Carolina, AOL.com

... a measure that will significantly expand the length of black bear hunting in the mountain region... 69% of the 646 respondents saying they do not support the change ... the bear population in the mountains is growing 7% each year ..,


Can a small number of wolves have impact? March 1, 2024 North Carolina, The Columbian

... a paper observing a correlation between the red wolf’s decline, which accelerated around 2015, and increases in many of the animals that the wolves hunt ... From spring 2018 to spring 2021, as the wolf population declined ... Populations of deer, which red wolves hunt, remained relatively consistent, increasingly slightly... Raccoon sightings increased ...


Fighting the fatal chronic wasting disease in N.C. deer January 2, 2024 North Carolina, Spectrum News

...So far in 2023, there have been five CWD cases reported in three counties. This sampling period will run until June 30, 2024.  2022 was the first year CWD was confirmed in North Carolina, and by the end of the year, it had been reported in seven counties for a total of 15 cases..,


CWD By the Numbers as of Dec. 15, 2023 North Carolina Wildlife Commission

     The Wildlife Commission continues to test hunter-harvested deer for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) statewide. As of Dec. 15, 2023, biologists have:  Collected tissue samples from 25,368 deer.  Received “Not Detected” results from 8,187 of those samples

Received “Positive” results for five samples (3 Cumberland County, 1 Johnston County, 1 Franklin County) ...


Franklin County landowners push for more dog deer hunting restrictions December 8, 2023 North Carolina, WRAL 

... they want to prevent hunting dogs from coming onto their land without permission. “Dogs do not respect boundaries, and it’s not their fault,”  ...


The state sees a major increase in hunting incidents involving serious injury or death December 7, 2023 North Carolina, WFMY News 2

... there have been five fatalities involving hunting with a firearm this hunting season, more than the past three seasons combined, which had one fatality between 2020-2022. Fourteen hunting-related incidents have occurred thus far in 2023, with 11 of them involving a firearm...


With chronic wasting disease deer cases increasing, NC pushes testing  December 7, 2023 North Carolina, The Fayetteville Observer

... North Carolina wildlife officials are reminding hunters to be careful when handling deer carcasses and to get harvested animals tested...  stresses to hunters the importance of taking precautions when transporting or disposing of deer carcasses." ...


Wildlife Agency Confirms First Case of CWD in Franklin County, North Carolina November 21, 2023 North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission News

... confirms a 2.5-year-old female white-tailed deer harvested in Franklin County has tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The deer was hunter-harvested during firearms season and represents the first detection of the disease in Franklin County..,


Advent of trail cameras really changed deer hunting November 19, 2023 South Carolina, Davie County Enterprise Record

...  Nowadays, a great majority of those successful hunters knew exactly what they were dealing with, having seen the bucks on trail-camera photos right up until the time they pulled the trigger... More than anything I’ve seen in 50 years in the woods, the trail camera has changed the way hunters target ...


CWD spread continues in NC November 10, 2023 Couth Carolina, Carolina Sportsman

...  Chronic Wasting Disease has reached Johnston County, NC for the first time.  Testing on a 31/2-year-old doe was conducted after the deer was harvested in the county by a hunter during archery season...


Deer discovered swimming off North Carolina’s coast, police say. See the odd video October 17, 2023 AOL

... The deer traveled about a third of a mile before heading back to shore, police said. It then galloped onto the beach and took off running for the dunes...


Chronic wasting disease detected in Johnston County deer, 1st case in Triangle October 13, 2023 North Carolina, YAHOO!News

... A deer in Johnston County died from chronic wasting disease, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission confirmed Friday, marking the first case of the fatal illness around the Triangle... a 3 1/2-year-old female white-tailed deer ..,


New Carolina Deer News and Information Archive by TopicPopulation and Management, Deer in the News, Disease, Suburban, Transportation, Deer Resistant Plants

North Carolina data An estimated 1,165,000 deer in early 2015, about a million estimated in early 2016, 2017, and 2018.  The population remained steady in 2020 to 2021 at about 1 million.  The increased deer kill  for 2020-21 was in part s a result of the pandemic with more hunters in the field.  Hunting data indicates in increase into 2017-18, a decline in 2018, and recovery for 2019.  Changes in hunting rules contributed to the 2018 decline.  Hurricane Florence reduced deer populations in some areas in 2018.  The population trend has been lower populations in the east, higher in the west, stable in other areas.  


The 2016 hunt, down 7.8 percent from the previous year and 11.2 percent below the 10-year average, indicates a population decline.  Declines were reported across the state.  Lower populations in the east.  Deer population estimated at 1.2 to 1.35 million in 2013 through 2011 (estimate from North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission).  An EHD outbreak in 2014 reduced deer populations in some areas by as much as 30 percent to about one million.  The 2014 deer hunt fell by 18.3 percent while the buck-to-doe ratio increased from 46.0 percent to 47.8 percent.  


Contributing to the hunt decline was a near record acorns crop so deer did not need to wander far to find food.  Another significant outbreak of EHD in 2012, but populations bounced back into 2013 resulting in a record harvest of 188,130 .  The EHD outbreak was worst in the southeast and midwest of the state.  Some areas lost up to 70 percent of the deer. With the 2015 deer density at less than 15 per square mile from Buncombe County west,  deer would benefit from more wildlife habitat in the Pisgah and Nantahala forests.  The previous record deer harvest was in 2008-09 at 176,297. Does were 42.7 percent of the 2012 harvest.   The number of deer hunters was steady since 2010 at about 250,000 active hunters.


A population estimate of 1,100,000 in 2009 and 650,000 in 1990.


Chronic Wasting Disease.  The state announced in March, 2022, the first deer with CWD discovered, killed in northern Yadkin County during the hung in December 2021. A second case in August, a third in October.  As of the 2020-21 season, no chronic disease had been detected in the state.  A case in Virginia, 33 miles from the state line, discovered in 2021.  Five more positives in 2023 with new detections in  Cumberland, Wilkes, and Johnston counties.  In 2024 for the 2023-24 season 13 new cases bringing the total to 24.


Hemorrhagic Disease reported in 39 counties in 2022.

Graph of Deer Harvest from North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission


History  Between 1699 and 1715 southeastern tribes were shipping about 54,000 deer skins annually as part of the deer skin trade. The deer were nearly extirpated from the state in 1900 to 1925.  The deer population was about 10,000 around the year 1900.   In 1935 there were no deer east of Asheville or west of Moore County.  An estimate of 6 in the state in 1934.  Restocking began in 1938 and deer recovered, also through conservation efforts to 150,000 by 1950, and reaching about 1.1 million in the year 2000.  The Cherokee Indians are attempting to restock their tribal lands in the Qualla Boundary of western North Carolina.  Predation by bears and coyotes and the reduction of edge habitat in the Qualla Boundary have prevented the deer from recovering as they have in some other parts of the Southeast.


Population Estimates:  50,000 in 1944, 370,000 in 1968.


Elk:  About 200 in 2021 and 2019; 150 in 2018.  Elk once thrived in the region, but overhunting and habitat loss in the 1700 to early 1800s decimated the population.   Elk herds were introduced to the Cataloochee area of the Smokies in 2001 and 2002.    In 2001, 25 elk were introduced with another 27 in 2002.  An estimated population of 140-160 in 2015


Red Wolf: The world's only population of red wolves reside in North Carolina.  Thought to have a population of 75 to 100 in early 2015.  Down to 50 to 75 or less in 2018.  Eight red wolves were released into a wildlife refuge in 2021 with the population thought to be under 10.  About 20 in 2022.  A 2024 study shows a decline in red wolves corresponded to an increase in deer and racoon populations.


Cougar:  Once native to the state, the eastern cougar was officially declared extinct in 2018 but probably extinct before 1950.  By 1900, the Eastern cougar was extirpated throughout North Carolina.


Bear:  The mountian bear population is estimated to be growing at 7% per year so in 2024 the wildlife commission extended the bear hunting season by a month.


Coyote:  No coyotes migrated into the state until 1988.  Estimated at 51,905 animals in 2016-17 a 29 percent increase over 2010-11,


Other useful links:

- North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources

- North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

- Emammal, using cameras, citizen scientists help collect data about deer and other wildlife in North Carolina.  Deer/coyote interactions are an important part of the analysis