Rhode Deer Population:   An estimated 20,000 deer in 2022 based on hunting data, up from a reported 19,000 deer in early 2019, 18,000 in early 2018; 16,000 deer in 2016, and 15,000 in 2013.  An excellent mast crop in 2015 followed by a poor mast crop in 2016.

Rhode Island Deer News

Captive Hunting on Track to Be Banned May 24, 2024 Rhode Island,  ecoRI News

...  a statewide prohibition on the practice is on the verge of becoming law. Identical bans (S2732A/H7294A) were introduced in the House and Senate earlier this year... On Thursday the House approved its version of the bill by a vote of 69-0...

A private club wanted to import big game to RI. The state may ban captive hunting instead.  May 17, 2024 Rhode Island, Yahoo, The Providence Journal

... bills seeking to ban captive hunting in Rhode Island are gaining momentum... Among the chief concerns is that imported elk could be carrying Chronic Wasting Disease ...

Local hunters group advocating for banning captive hunting in Rhode Island May 15, 2024 Rhode Island, RIPR: The Public's Radio

... The Preserve Sporting Club in Richmond has tried in the past to legalize big game hunting ... we have undertaken an effort to address the desire to open this industry and really to change the law in the other direction and prohibit the establishment of captive hunting facilities and the importation of wildlife for that purpose...

15,000 years ago, a glacier covered Rhode Island. Explore its rocky relics in Charlestown.  April 26, 2024 AOL.com

... after King Philip's War (1675-1676).

According to Silvermoon LaRose, assistant director of the Tomaquag Museum in Exeter, the land was a good hunting ground because of the deer runs that extended to what is now the Burlingame Management Area..,

Shelter Island hunters take fewer deer than previous season: Stepped up effort to do more

Shelter Island Reporter April 8, 2024 Rhode Island, Times Review

... a total of 286 deer were taken during the town-sponsored hunting period compared with 316 during the same period the previous year.  During the hunt conducted by those with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators (NWCOs) ...

Annual national deer stats report! March 15, 2024 Rhode Island, Sullivan County Democrat

...  Rhode Island hunters take 42 percent of their deer with muzzleloading rifles ...

Senate Hunting Ban Bill Held for Further Study March 14, 2024 Rhode Island,  Sportsmen's Alliance

...  Senate Bill 2732 ... prohibits hunting where “man-made structures and/or natural barriers” are designed to limit an animal’s free movement. It is anybody’s guess what this means, but obviously includes roads, rivers, streams, hills, canals, fences ...

Rhode Island DEM confirms EEE-positive deer, warns hunters November 7, 2023  DEM News

... The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are confirming this year’s first positive detection of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in a white-tailed deer. DEM’s Division of Law Enforcement (DLE) responded to a report of a deer with neurological symptoms in Charlestown on Oct. 23. DLE humanely dispatched the animal and its tissues were subsequently tested for rabies; the test was negative. The RIDOH State Health Laboratories then tested the deer, confirming EEE. The transmission of the EEE virus to a deer reinforces that 2023 has been a higher-than-average risk year for mosquito-borne disease in southern New England....

Data: RI, Mass. saw uptick in crashes involving deer last year October 12, 2023 Rhode Island, WPRI 12

... Data reveals there were 1,544 crashes involving deer in Rhode Island last year, which is a 20% increase from the year prior..,

Bow-and-arrow deer hunting now allowed in Bristol October 5, 2023 Rhode Island,  WPRI.com

... The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the town opened four wooded properties to archery deer hunting last month... Alison Arruda told 12 News that while she’s not against hunting, she is worried for the safety of residents whose homes abut the properties... described the initiative as being unsafe, inhumane ...

When Rhode Island hunters can get their deer permits this year July 31, 2023 ABC6

... Each deer permit costs $13 online or $13.50 at a sales agent for residents. For non-residents, the cost is $26.50 online or $27.50 at a sales agent...

Block Island, Hunting for solutions with the RIDEM March 31, 2023 Rhode Island, Block Island Times

... Ferrara said that if you were concerned with population reductions, it was far better to take does than bucks. “One male will fertilize as many [females] as he wants,” he said. “When you are removing a female, you’re also removing her offspring.”  However, for many hunters, antlers are the draw...

Rhode Island Deer News and Information Archive by Topic: Population and Management, Deer in the News, Suburban, Transportation

Rhode Island Data:   Based on hunting data about 20,000 deer in 2022 up from 18,000 in 2021.  A 20% increase in deer-vehicle collisions, 2022 over 2021, and a 25% increase in the deer kill from the hunt suggest an increase in the deer population although there was drought in 2022 and hunter participation increased due to the pandemic.  An estimated 19,000 deer in reported early 2019 with about 17,000 deer tags sold annually.  About 18,000 deer reported in 2018., 16,000 deer in 2016 for 15 deer per square mile, up from about 15,000 deer in 2013. 

Data and Sources for the Chart Below

In 2021 "the number of reported deer auto strikes was equivalent to 59% of the total reported hunter harvest."

A good mast crop in 2015, but drought in the summer of 2016 and defoliation of oak trees by the gypsy month significantly reduced the mast crop in 2016.  Hunters reported a 33 percent success rate in 2013.  A population estimate of 16,000 in 2009 and 5,000 in 1990.

The Rhode Island DEM estimated 661 deer in 1942 and 15,800 in 2004.

Block Island.  In 1967 seven deer were imported to Block Island with support from the Town Council and the R.I. Department of Environment Management (DEM).  By 2013 the deer population rose to roughly 1,000.  A planned deer cull on Block Island was cancelled in 2014 when the hired sharpshooters were denied permission to use silencers on their rifles.  State laws ban the use of silencers and prohibit the use of bait which was also being used by the professional sharpshooters.  

Rhode Island  Deer Harvest, 1977 - 2022

Source:  Rhode Island DEM

The number of deer permits purchased by hunters  fell from 17,827 in 2000 to 14,391 in 2017.

History:    In 1646, to preserve the deer population from overhunting, the town of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, enacted a law that outlawed deer hunting from the first of May to the first of November, stating "if any person shall shoot a deer within that time, he shall forfeit five pounds."   The state still had good deer hunting and extensive populations by 1675.  By the late 1700s and into the late 1800s deer had been exterimated from the state.

Mountain Lion:  The reported last mountain lion was killed in 1847-48.  Deforestation and the elimination of the deer population at about that time contributed to the elimination of lions from the state.

Coyotes were observed starting in the 1960's and reached the Aquidneck and Conanicut islands in the mid-1990s.

Deer Fawns In Trouble  If the fawn remains in an unsafe area, call DEM’s Division of Law Enforcement 24-hour dispatch at 401-222-3070 for further guidance. Any fawn obviously injured by a pet, vehicle, or farm equipment should be reported directly to the Wildlife Rehabilitators Association of Rhode Island at 401-294- 6363.

Other useful links

Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management News

Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife