South Carolina Deer Population:  A state estimate of about 700,000 in 2023.  Estimates of 700,000 and 730,000 deer reported for 2022.  A state estimate of 730,000 deer in 2021. About 730,000 deer in 2018 and 2017.  An estimated 725,000 deer in 2016.  Estimated at about the same, 730,000, in 2015.  The deer harvest was down 11 percent in 2016-17 due to habitat change, coyote predation, and Hurricane Matthew.  The population peaked around the year 2000 at 1 to 1.2 million deer.  

South Carolina Deer News

Video:  Tega Cay neighbors were sent a 22-question survey to manage the city's deer population. It asks people general questions about their feelings toward the deer, including whether the deer has caused any damage or raised concerns.  April 10, 2024 South Carolina, Queen City News

Tragedy and Teamwork in Hartsville: The Rescue of a Deer from Urban Predators February 22, 2024 South Carolina, BNN Breaking

...  A young deer, pursued by wild dogs, finds itself in a life-threatening predicament, seeking refuge in a retention pond near Neptune Island Water Park... Despite the collective effort, the doe's injuries proved too severe...

Tega Cay leaders share underwhelming results of deer culling operation February 21, 2024 South Carolina, WBTV Charlotte on MSN

... just 38 deer - far below the city’s goal of 160... with a price tag of nearly $95,000... those behind the program blamed the shortcomings on limitations put in place due to safety concerns...

Tega Cay granted permission to cull more deer January 18, 2024 South Carolina, YAHOO!News

... In the meantime, city council is waiting for Clemson University to approve a birth control method for deer overpopulation. Deer would be shot with darts full of PZP, which is a fertility-control vaccine...

Beloved deer on Daufuskie goes missing. People on social media point fingers at hunters January 18, 2024 South Carolina, YAHOO!News

... The deer, named Turbo, was loved by island residents and visitors. Locals shared that she’d approach people looking for ice cream or french fries. She would wait by the ferry for her caretaker to return from the grocery store...

Style of hunting controversy after friendly deer goes missing on Daufuskie Island January 10, 2024 South Carolina, WTOC-TV

... After a recent dog-driven deer hunt, Turbo hasn’t been seen.  The deer was a common site on Daufuskie Island. Visitors and residents alike reached out to WTOC with their photos, videos and stories of meeting Turbo, the deer that wore a collar... everybody loved her, she went into local bars ...

The buck stops here: Tega Cay will start culling 'out of control' deer, and using birth control December 19, 2023 South Carlina, WUNC

... Tega Cay City Council has been looking at reducing the population either by killing some with sharpshooters, or via a proposal from a local wildlife group to shoot the deer with birth control.  At their meeting Monday night, City Council members decided: Why not try both? ...

A lethal wildlife disease is stalking South Carolina. How ‘zombie deer’ threaten the state November 29, 2023 Yahoo

... Chronic wasting disease  ...  since 2010, it has been found in all southern states, except South Carolina, Georgia and Kentucky... some hunters in South Carolina say they haven’t heard much about the disease, despite what state officials report are extensive efforts to let sportsmen know about the threat..,

Tega Cay Leaders Continue To Weigh Options To Deal With Deer Overpopulation Issue November 21, 2023 South Carolina, WCCB Charlotte

... the state has approved the possible use of PZP, a type of birth control for deer. They are shot with darts with the pregnancy blocker.  Members of the Tega Cay Wildlife Conservation Society are trying to convince city leaders to go with that option...

Hunter involved in ‘zombie’ deer case pleads guilty. Diseased deer head brought to SC November 20, 2023 South Carolina, YAHOO!News

... admitted in federal court that he was part of a group that broke state and federal laws when it hauled a deer head with chronic wasting disease to South Carolina from Kansas...

Wildlife nonprofit presents other option for controlling deer pop. in Tega Cay November 2, 2023 South Carolina, CN2 News

... a group called Tega Cay Wildlife Conservation Society which is presenting another option ... called PZP and the Conservation Society says it’s a natural protein that would be darted into the female deer and will cause the deer’s immune system to prevent pregnancy, breaking the cycle of more deer being born. Officials say it is 80 to 90 percent effective...

New law changes how SC hunters have to tag, report their deer kills November 2, 2023 South Carolina, YAHOO!News

... Starting at the beginning of July 2024, hunters will have to electronically tag deer instead of putting physical tags on them... Tagging and reporting the kills helps the state ensure hunters stay within their legal kill limits...

State officials keep eye out for Chronic Wasting Disease among deer October 22, 2023 South Carolina, Post and Courier

... “The disease appears to be highly related to commercial movements of deer. Different states vary on how they regulate raising deer, shooter bucks, moving deer around. South Carolina has never allowed that,” Ruth said. “We’ve never had this commercial business that allows interstate traffic of captive animals...

'Birth control darts' under consideration to reduce Tega Cay deer population October 17, 2023 South Carolin, WBTV

... It would involve the use of ZonaStat-D, something council members said had been suggested by the newly formed Tega Cay Conservation Society.  “To put it bluntly, it’s birth control administered via a dart,” according to an update given at the meeting...

Hunters pry open 11-foot alligator’s mouth and find a deer antler is stuck in its jaw October 3, 2023 South Carolina, Charlotte Observer

... Wedged inside was a full 3-point deer antler permanently stuck in the soft tissue of its lower jaw... “I’m guessing the deer was drinking water and the alligator popped out and grabbed it,” ...

South Carolina Deer News and Information Archive by Topic: Population and Management, Deer in the News, Suburban, Transportation

South Carolina Deer:   A 2023 estimate from the state of about 700,000 deer with the population stable to slightly increasing since 2015.  Reported state esstimates of 730,0000 deer in deer in 2022, 2021 and in 2018Also a reported population estimate of 700,000 for 2022. The 2022 deer harvest was up about 2.8 percent from 2021 but down by 9.2 percent from 2020.  Based on harvest data about 730,000 deer in 2017.  The state observed in 2021 that the deer population has increased since 2016 after declining from 2002 to 2015 with a reduced coyote population thought to be one reason.  

The deer population was estimated at about 725,000 in 2016 (700,000 to 750,000).  About the same estimate in 2015 of 730,000.  The deer harvest was down 11 percent in 2016-17 due to habitat change, coyote predation, and Hurricane Matthew.   A statewide limit on bucks was introduced in the 2017 to improve age structure.  Deer hunting in South Carolina generates more than $200 million annually.  

Estimated at 730,000 in 2015 and 750,000 in 2014 and 2013.  Population densities are much higher in low country agricultural counties than upstate.  The 2014 harvest of 202,952, was 53.9 percent bucks (46.1% does) and was 36.6 percent below the record of 2002.  Hunters reported a 70 success rate.  The 2014 harvest was down 9 percent from 2013 and about 40 percent from 2002.  An estimated population of 725,000 to 750,000 in 2012More than 30 percent below peak population in 2011 with 725,000 deer..

A population estimate of 750,000 in 2009. About 750,000 deer in 2008.  The 2004 population was estimated at 900,000.  About 1,000,000 in 2001.  

The population rose from about 900,000 in 1988 and peaked around 1996 and stabilized at about 1.1 to 1.2 million with the peak deer harvest in 2002 at 319,902 and the population began trending lower.  Major factors were  habitat loss due to the many acres that were planted in ten- year old and older pine and possibly coyote predation.  Drought in 2015 contributed to the downward trend. 

Estimated deer population and harvest below

1972 to 2014

 Source:  SCDNR



History  Timber management policies of the 1970's and 80's favored deer habitat, leading to population growth.  Currently there is significant acreage in even aged pine stands, about ten years old, that do not provide good habitat.  Increased coyotes populations, non natives, have also driven down populations.  In a recent study at the Savannah River Site, 70 percent fawn mortality was recorded with coyotes accounting for 80 percent of the mortality.  More deer history.

In 1972 the white-tail deer was designated as the as the official state animal.

 Population Estimates:  80,000 in 1950, 170,000 in 1968.  A rough estimate of 365,000 in the 1980s.

Chronic Wasting Disease  A deer head, imported in 2019 for display as a trophy, contained chronic wasting disease ...the first — and only — time the disease had been verified in a deer transported into South Carolina.  In 2023, three hunters were charged with federal wildlife crimes in a case that began in Kansas and ended when a trophy deer head they imported into South Carolina tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease.  As of 2023 all southern states but South Carolina, Georgia, and Kentucky have reported finding the disease.

Elk were hunted to extinction by the 1700's.  In 2016, a young male elk thought to be pushed out of a North Carolina herd was the first documented elk in South Carolina since that time. 

Bears  An estimated 800 in the coastal areas in 2012.  A 2023 estimate of about 1500 black bears, with many moving back and forth between Georgia, NC and SC.

Coyote  First seen in state are 1978, are now found in all counties.  Hunters killed about 30,000 in 2010.

Useful links

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control

South Carolina wildlife rehabilitators