Washington Deer Population:  An estimated 252,000 deer in 2021 - 181,000 mule deer and blacktails, and  71,000 whitetails.  The population is down from about 278,000 in 2020 and 310,000 in 2014.  In 2021 about 25 percent of whitetails and 15 percent of blacktails died from disease.  In 2021 there were an estimated 92,000 blacktails, 89,000 mule deer, and 71,000 whitetail deer.   Not counted are an estimated 1,300 Columbia whitetails that are protected, not hunted.  About 280,000 deer in 2019, up from 270,000 in 2018 and 250,000 in 2017 based on hunting data.  A slight downward population trend since the early 2000's.  

Washington Deer News

WDFW invites public comment on rule making to offer incentives for chronic wasting disease testing September 25, 2023 Washington, The Reflector

... WDFW has asked hunters to have harvested deer and elk tested for CWD since 2021 as part of the department’s disease surveillance program... 

Driver Allegedly Shot Man as He Helped Deer Cross Road September 17, 2023 Washington, Newser 

...  a man stood in his driveway with his wife, attempting to alert passing cars to deer that were crossing the road so that drivers would slow down, one of those drivers fatally shot him, police say...

Man killed in road-rage shooting after trying to slow cars down for crossing deer September 11, 2023 FOX 13 Seattle

... The woman told deputies that she and her husband had gone out to the road to slow down traffic on S. Machias Rd. to help some deer safely cross the road...she heard a pop and turned around to see her husband laying in the driveway of their home and had been shot...

Washington plans special drawing for hunters who have elk, deer tested for chronic wasting disease September 1, 2023 Yahoo Sports

... It's an incentive program meant to boost sample numbers for the always-fatal brain disease, which affects elk, deer, moose and caribou. The disease hasn't been detected in Washington ...

WDFW seeks public input on proposed Methow Wildlife Area temporary winter closures to protect mule deer September 1, 2023 Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife News

... The Methow Valley is home to the largest migratory mule deer herd in Washington ... With the increasing impacts of climate change, including higher intensity wildfire, mule deer winter range has been decreasing while the demand for outdoor recreation has been increasing...

Watch deer with sweet tooth wander into Washington candy shop. 'We have a taffy thief' August 29, 2023 Washington, Tacoma News Tribune

... A buck wandered into Buddy and Howie's Candy Store in Ocean Shores, Washington. It stole a buttered popcorn taffy before fleeing ...

Washington considers consolidating elk management August 16, 2023 Crosscut

... An estimated 45,000 to 50,000 elk live throughout Washington, divided into 10 “populations,” ... most Washington elk populations are meeting the state’s objectives ...  In April, Rep. Debra Lekanoff, D-Bow, introduced House Bill 1849 to require the Department of Fish and Wildlife to set up a statewide elk management plan..,

Officials question Fish and Wildlife view August 15, 2023 Washington, Yahoo News

... Commissioner Brian Shinn said the state board is dominated by people who are not worried about dwindling elk populations or deer. Instead, the majority opposes hunting bears and cougars and seem to be more concerned about predators than prey ...

Deer take refuge from Washington wildfires at base of massive turbines as blaze expands July 25, 2023 Fox News

...  he saw deer: does and fawns that had found refuge on gravel pads at the base of the towers, some of the only areas left untouched amid an expanse of blackened earth.  "That was their sanctuary — everything was burning around them," ...

Allometric brain reduction in an insular, dwarfed population of black-tailed deer.

2023, Journal of Mammalian Evolution

... Previous research has established that insular large mammals tend to reduce in body size, and that size reduction may not scale isometrically across all body parts. The brain has been a particular subject of interest due to its high energy requirements. Here, we report that an extant, dwarfed island population of black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) exhibits significantly reduced brain mass relative to body mass in comparison to their mainland conspecifics, with brain mass 4.9% smaller in the island population for a given body mass ...

See it: Deer finds most unusual mammal-eating friend to swim with off Washington coast June 7, 2023 Washington, AOL

...  the wildlife tour guests aboard Island Adventures Whale Watching witnessed Sunday along Battleship Island, a small island northwest of San Juan Island in Washington. A deer was seen taking a swim with a mammal-eating killer whale...

Once controversial highway program is now massive success story March 11, 2023 Washington, Adirondack Daily Enterprise

... at 11 wildlife crossings on a seven-mile stretch of Interstate 90.  Last year, there were close to 5,000 crossings–mostly deer, elk, coyotes ... According to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), Colorado has 69 wildlife crossings; California and Utah each have 50; and Washington and Nevada have close to two dozen each. Oregon is lagging, with just six...

Animal advocacy group files complaints against WSU research animal deaths February 17, 2023 Washington, Northwest News Network

... In meeting minutes from the university’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, he read that five deer, one elk and one alpaca died in a bluetongue and epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, outbreak. Minutes from a separate meeting show two elk were euthanized and two elk died after developing pneumonia post-anesthesia...

Columbian white-tailed deer make gains, but still face threats, challenges February 10, 2023 Washington, The Columbian

... a recent population study that found the risk of the species facing a “serious threat of extinction” is exceedingly low. It particularly illustrated the growth of populations along the lower Columbia River, which were estimated to be nearly 1,300 in 2022. That compares with a population estimate of 545 made 20 years ago...

'Some equity here': Bill would pay Fish and Wildlife Commission members | Washington February 8, 2023 Washington, The Center Square

... what Kretz feels is a lack of representation of his constituents in the commission that lead to HB 1699, which would start to pay members of the commission. The opening sentence of the bill calls it “an act relating to establishing salaries for the Washington fish and wildlife commission.” ...

Study: Staying in standard time leads to more deer-vehicle collisions January 26, 2023 Washington, MyNorthwest.com

... we increase our chances of hitting deer because they come out in abundance at night.  A group of UW scholars studied deer collisions and found turning the clocks back in November leads to a 16% hike in deer-vehicle collisions...

Human Presence Alone Can Create "Landscape of Fear" for Wildlife January 24, 2023 Washington, Labroots

... The species that demonstrated a reduction in trail area use included black bear, white-tailed deer, and elk, and many species were found to even reduce their daytime activities, to include coyotes, snowshoe hare, grizzly bears, and mule deer. Despite this, it was also found that cougars didn’t change their behavioral patterns at all...  a recent study published in Scientific Reports ...

WDFW seeks comment on rule making for Columbian white-tailed deer and Cascade red fox December 22, 2022 Washington, WDFW - WA.gov

... seeking public input ... until Jan. 24, 2023... The Department is recommending re-classifying the Columbian white-tailed deer from endangered to threatened ... Columbian white-tailed deer (CWTD) were listed as threatened under the federal ....

Cougars Are Killing a Surprising Number of Wolves Washington State December 20, 2022 Washington, Field & Stream

... Recent findings show that wolves are being killed by cougars at a higher rate than anyone previously expected. The project employs radio collars to monitor the movements of wolves and cougars, along with other smaller carnivores such as bobcats and coyotes. A mortality signal is sent out to biologists when collared animals stop moving for a period of time ... 

Some Details From Year 2 Of Blues Elk Calf Mortality Study Out December 11, 2021 Washington, Northwest Sportsman Magazine

... as of early December, 23 calves were still “on the air” and that 48 other collared calves had died, with 31 of the confirmed 37 predator mortalities attributed to the big cats – 83 percent... State managers say 20 to 30 percent of elk calves need to survive to their first year for a herd just to hold steady...

Moose Spotted For First Time Ever In Washington's Mount Rainier National Park December 9, 2022 Washington, Whiskey Riff

...  the farthest south a moose was seen in Washington before was west of Stevens Pass in 2009... In 2015, there were an estimated 5,000 moose in Washington state, with most residing in the Selkirk Mountains ..,

Wildfires reshape forests and change the behavior of animals that live there November 12, 2022 Washington, Salon

... Habitat degradation and other factors have caused populations of mule deer, a common species in many parts of the West, to decline across much of their native range... We found that mule deer use these burns in summer but avoid them in winter. Deer also adjusted their movement to reduce predation risk in these burned landscapes, which varies depending on whether cougars or wolves are the threat...

New poll suggests Washington wildlife management is 'out of touch with the public,' may have political implications November 11, 2022 tdn

... majority of Washington voters believe state wildlife managers' goal should be "preserving and protecting fish and wildlife" ... 48% of Washingtonians approve of some lethal control of carnivores to protect deer, elk, and moose populations in Washington, compared to 30% who oppose...

In Washington State, Hunters May No Longer Be “Necessary to Manage Wildlife” November 7, 2022 Outdoor Life

... this year hunters aren’t seeing nearly as many elk or pine-ridge whitetails as usual... They mostly blame wolves that have moved into this rural corner of Washington over the past decade and the increasing number of cougars ...  Locals cite the ambush of a 9-year-old girl playing hide-and-seek [cougar] ...

Washington wildlife commissioners visit 'center of wolf recovery' as public raises concerns about public safety, game populations October 29, 2022 YAHOO!News

... Citizens living in the "center of wolf recovery" told wildlife managers Friday that an increase in predators has stoked public safety concerns, decimated deer and elk populations and broken trust... Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, told the nine assembled commissioners Friday. "The public does not trust the department right now and I think we have to fix that." ...

     WDFW Commission Hears NE WA Ungulate, Predator Concerns October 28, 2022 Washington, Northwest Sportsman Magazine

... Speaker after speaker this morning said they’re seeing fewer and fewer deer but also longterm increases of wolves, cougars and black bears, making for much tougher hunting, increased domestic animal depredations and safety concerns...

Too many predators, not enough prey October 20, 2022 Washington, Cheney Free Press

... In ... the northeast corner of the state ... cougars and wolves kill almost 20,000 deer a year. Hunters last year killed an additional 3,600 ... That does not include additional loss by bear, coyote, bobcat, automobile or other mortalities.  Fish and Wildlife officials estimate the year started with 30,000 whitetail deer ...

Wildfires reshape forests and change the behavior of animals that live there October 19, 2022 Washington, The Conversation

... Habitat degradation and other factors have caused populations of mule deer, a common species in many parts of the West, to decline across much of their native range... We found that mule deer use these burns in summer but avoid them in winter... After a fire, burned forests can be lush ... Where fires have removed these upper branches, snow is often deeper than in unburned forests...

Washington 2022 Deer Prospects: Will Harvest Bounce Back? September 23, 2022 Northwest Sportsman Magazine

... To help rebuild those hemorrhagic-disease-hit herds ... “In those impacted areas, mostly in Region 1 but also in Region 2, the Department reduced special permit opportunity for 2022, primarily to reduce mortality of antlerless deer and promote population recovery ... we anticipate another year of overall depressed harvest due to the impacts of 2021’s outbreaks.” ..,

5 Best Western States for Whitetail Hunting September 4, 2022 Washington, Wide Open Spaces

... There are estimated to be 300,000 deer in the state, a little more than 100,000 of which are whitetails. The buck harvest in 2020 was 25% of the over 110,000 tags Washington issued that year...

Dispatch from Blakely Island: Biology in the Field September 4, 2022 Fashion News

... Their natural predators, including cougars & wolves, have been exterminated by early settlers. Annual hunting is not a significant factor in the survival of the herd. The only thing that limits its numbers is the availability of food. Dr. Long points out the fact that the mature forest canopy blocks sunlight and reduces the undergrowth, which is something the deer love. He estimates that once there was a stable population of 500 deer. Now, it is only 350...

Wildlife crossings potentially save millions of dollars annually in Washington state August 30, 2022 Washington, Phys.org

... A Washington State University economic analysis found there were 1 to 3 fewer collisions involving wildlife per mile, each year in a 10-mile radius around each wildlife crossing in the study...  Deer are the animals most likely to be involved in vehicle collisions, which cost on average about $9,000 per accident. Camera traps also show that deer seem to use bridge crossings more often ..

Herd Growth Has WDFW Mulling Downlisting Columbian Whitetails August 23, 2022 Washington, Northwest Sportsman Magazine

... The Department is recommending re-classifying Columbian white-tailed deer from endangered to threatened ... estimated a low of only 545 deer in 2002. The population is now substantially higher, with an estimated population of 1,296 deer in 2022... [read the species review]

Viral deer disease returns to Goldendale area  August 4, 2022 Washington, NBC Right Now

...  deer around Goldendale are being affected by the viral infection known as AHD, or adenovirus hemorrhagic disease... The first AHD outbreak in the state was during summer 2017, also around Goldendale..,

Cold, wet spring a boon for deer elk, mixed bag for ground-nesting birds  June 19, 2022 Washington, Yahoo! Sports

...ungulates have their babies later, with most fawns being born now ... The increased rain will mean more forage for the animals... this could become a negative if once the rain stops the state is hit by a heat wave ...

Washington is on the search for zombie deer disease June 12, 2022 Seattle Times

... The disease [chronic wasting] has not yet been detected in Washington. In 2021, the Washington Legislature allocated the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife $465,000 for chronic wasting disease surveillance and monitoring....

Cougar mauls 9-year-old at church camp in Washington state May 31, 2022  ABC News

...The ambush predator eats deer and smaller animals. While cougars generally avoid people, attacks on humans have increased in North America as more people enter cougar habitat...

Hunters harvested fewer deer last year and permits expected to fall this year April 25, 2022 Washington, NCWLIFE

... it’s down from 2020 numbers by more than 5,000, and it’s the lowest deer harvest overall in the last twenty years... An estimated 25 percent of whitetail deer died as a result of illness, and 15 percent of mule deer..,

Washington's wolf population grew 16% during 2021 April 12, 2022 seattlepi.com

... As of Dec. 31, 2021, the state counted 206 wolves among 33 packs. In 2020, the state counted 178 wolves across 29 packs  ...  It marks the 13th year in which the state's wolf population has increased since officials began keeping track in 2008...

Whitetail hunting in jeopardy April 7, 2022 Washington, Whitman County Gazette

... The Northeast Washington Wildlife Group believes that our whitetail deer are in trouble and their numbers have dropped to the point that recovery is impossible given the direction state.  Region 1 game managers and the Fish and Wildlife Commission has taken...

WDFW Fish and Wildlife Commission - April 7-9, 2022 Meeting Agenda. Wasington

2:40 PM.  10.  Deer General Seasons and Special Permits – Decision.   Staff will ask the Commission for a decision on deer general seasons and special permits. WAC 220-415-020 2021-2023 Deer general seasons and definitions. WAC 220-415-030 2022 Deer special permits.  Summary SheetPresentation ...

State funding secured for the next wildlife underpass on Highway 97 March 16, 2022 Conservation Northwest

... The first wildlife crossing and one mile of deer fencing built on Highway 97 at Janis Bridge were completed in August 2020. Almost two years after the Janis Bridge crossing was finished, data from WSDOT shows there has been a 91 percent reduction in the number of vehicle-deer collisions. Before the undercrossing, vehicles hit approximately 50 deer per year in this area alone...

Snoqualmie Tribe petitions U.S. Supreme Court to review hunting and gathering civil rights case March 14, 2022 Washington, Bellevue Reporter

... the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, which unilaterally informed Snoqualmie that it had determined—without consulting Snoqualmie or the United States government — that “the Snoqualmie Tribe does not have off-reservation hunting and fishing rights under the Treaty.” ...

Hunting with Bait, Special Meeting Agenda February 25, 2022 Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife

... The Commission will consider a petition to amend WAC 220-414-030, to make it unlawful to hunt for deer and elk while using any type of bait, scents, or attractants ...

Deer with arrow in its side found wandering neighborhood in Washington, photos show February 11, 2022 Washington, News Tribune

...  The deer was located and immobilized so that the  injury could be assessed and the arrow removed. Once the arrow was safely removed the deer was set free in a more suitable location ... photo below from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police

Helicopters over county capturing mule deer January 26, 2022 Washington, Goldendale Sentinel

...  captures are taking place in Klickitat and Chelan counties along the east slope of the Cascade Mountains ... “In recent years, mule deer have lost winter habitat in the study areas to human development and remaining habitat has declined in quality due to factors such as drought, wildfire, and invasive plant species,” ...

Photo shows deer trapped along river in Washington canyon January 13, 2022 Washington, Charlotte Observer

... a herd of deer ... standing on a scrap of turf at the water’s edge and a single fallen tree holding back a wall of snow above them... The Washington Department of Fish ... said, people should resist the urge to intervene ...

Wildlife officials to conserve Washington’s deer population using helicopters January 13, 2022 KXLY 4 News

...  professional crews plan to use helicopters to capture 20 adult female deer... fit GPS satellite collars on the deer to track their migration patterns...

Severe winter, diseases have biologists concerned about regional wildlife populations January 8, 2022 Washington, The Spokesman-Review

... a potentially harder winter, is reminiscent of 2015. A disease outbreak that year killed hundreds of deer and was followed by severe winter conditions in 2016 and 2017. Regional herds took years to recover ...

Two elk decapitated and one left paralyzed after ‘appalling’ poaching, WA officials say January 5, 2022 Washington, Miami Herald

... “Two bulls were illegally killed, heads removed, and the meat wasted, on or around the weekend of Dec. 31, 2021,” Fish and Wildlife said in a Tuesday, Jan. 4, news release. “A third bull elk was shot, left injured and paralyzed in the frozen conditions.” ...

Advocates hope Caribou, now absent from the Lower 48, make a comeback December 12, 2021 Washington, Walla Walla Union Bulletin

... several reasons for the animal’s decline...  during fall 2020, the Arrow Lakes Caribou Society (ALCS) of Nakusp, British Columbia, finished construction of a maternity pen,.. In March or April, pregnant female caribou are captured by helicopter and placed in the forested enclosure where they are monitored 24/7...

Predators reduce niche overlap between sympatric prey 2021, Washington, Oikos, 2021

... Mule deer run (stot) in a way that is less effective as a means of fleeing from predators than the galloping gait of white-tailed deer. Consequently, mule deer manage risk from coursing predators like wolves by avoiding encounters, whereas white-tailed deer respond to such predators by exploiting areas where they are most likely to escape pursuit...At the home range scale, the ways in which resource overlap diminished in the wolf areas were consistent with the prey species reducing their respective risks, particularly with respect to slope, with mule deer separating from white-tailed deer by seeking steeper areas where wolf encounters are less likely... 

Hunters: Don't Bring Your Idaho Deer into Washington State November 24, 2021 NEWStalk 870

... CWD, or chronic wasting disease, has been confirmed in Idaho and Manitoba deer that have been recently harvested. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife would like to ask you not to bring those deer into Washington State to prevent spreading the disease...

Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife highly concerned about chronic wasting disease November 19, 2021 KXLY

...  Eastern Washingtonians who hunt in Idaho or Manitoba are asked not to bring deer, elk and moose back across state lines.   The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife issued the request in response to confirmed cases of chronic wasting disease in those areas...

Mule deer do more with less: comparing their nutritional requirements and tolerances with white-tailed deer November, 2021 Journal of Mammalogy

... We found that compared with white-tailed deer, mule deer required 54% less digestible protein and 21% less digestible energy intake per day to maintain body mass and nitrogen balance. In addition, they had higher fiber, energy, and dry matter digestibility and produced glucuronic acid (a byproduct of PSM detoxification) at a slower rate when consuming the monoterpene α-pinene. The mule deers’ enhanced physiological abilities to cope with low-quality, chemically defended forages relative to white-tailed deer might minimize potential competitive interactions in shared landscapes and provide a modest advantage to mule deer in habitats dominated by low-quality forages...

AHD, An update on the deer virus  November 2, 2021 Washisngton, San Juan Journal

... adenovirus hemorrhagic disease (AHD)  ... 112 reports of dead deer from San Juan Island and 218 reports from Orcas Island... The highly contagious virus only affects cervids ...

For the first time in a decade, Washington wildlife officials sample for chronic wasting disease on deer hunting season opening day October 17, 2021 Seattle Times

... The last time Washington had a formal surveillance program was 2011. However, the state banned deer farming in 1995, a move that Mansfield credits with keeping CWD out of Washington...

Sunland board considers plan to control deer population September 22, 2021 Washington, Sequim Gazette

...  ... According to survey results from Blankenship, 72 homes responded — with 42 against the plan, 27 for it, and three undecided... State officials would trap, euthanize and harvest the deer meat for local food banks and tribal agencies ... Continued deer counts by volunteer Sunland residents ...

EHD, Northwest deer dying of drought-related viral disease September 8, 2021 Washington, KUOW

...Reports of diseased deer have come in from east of the Cascade Mountains, including Spokane Valley, Deer Park, Colfax, and Davenport... more white-tailed deer than normal have been infected with either bluetongue or epizootic hemorrhagic disease, known as EHD...

Washington 2021 Hunting Outlook August 31, 2021 WDFW News

... All available harvest and survey data indicate white-tailed deer populations appear to be stable in all GMUs associated with District 1. According to harvest data, mule deer populations appear to be stable or slightly decreasing...   Game Status Report for 2020, February 2021

38 whitetail deer in eastern Washington dead from deadly hemorrhaging diseases, including bluetongue August 20, 2021 YAHOO!News

... Two whitetail deer near Davenport, Wash., tested positive for bluetongue and epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) this week. Meanwhile, 36 deer near Colfax are believed to have died from EHD...

A farewell to an extroverted deer August 9, 2021 Washington, Journal of the San Juan Islands

...  After nine years of touching the lives of locals and visitors, the beloved island deer died in June... When Little Girl had fawns of her own, her fawns didn’t follow her lead and never got close to humans either. Chenoweth said that people didn’t try to lure her fawns in either, as they wanted to keep them wild for their own health...

AHD, Officials confirm virus killing deer in San Juan islands now seen in Anacortes July 31, 2021 Washtington, Skagit Valley Herald

... six dead deer were reported in the neighborhood near Cap Sante Park. They included four fawns, a young doe and an adult buck... a necropsy verified the cause of death was a viral infection known as adenovirus hemorrhagic disease (AHD)..,

Deer foaming at the mouth, dropping dead in San Juan Islands July 9, 2021 Washington, Frederick News-Post

... the disease was identified as adenovirus hemorrhagic disease ... Residents reported more than 50 dead deer to state and local wildlife officials since early May ..,

Critters search for shade during Washington's heat wave, possible harbinger of future climate conditions July 1, 2021, The Spokesman-Review

... “You could see population impacts from a drought, “Atamian said... This can lead to disease transmission. In 2015, for example, an outbreak of bluetongue disease killed hundreds of white-tail deer in Northeast Washington. Bluetongue is transmitted by gnats, especially in dry conditions when the deer are concentrated near waterholes and mud...

After being driven to near extinction, wolves are back in Washington. Can we coexist with them? July 1, 2021 Florida News Times

... They are what are called “coursing” predators, flowing like a river over the land, running animals to exhaustion, culling the weak, the sick and the small. It is no accident that wolf pups are born the same time elk and deer birth their young—creating food for the growing wolf pack...

Lacey police find baby deer in hotel bathroom June 16, 2021 Washington, KING5.com

... The hotel guest said they took the deer back to their room because its mother had been hit by a car. .. “They didn’t want to leave the baby deer alone,” ...That’s exactly what they should have done, said Washington Fish and Wildlife officer ... once a deer has contact with a human, it’s hard for them to survive in the wild.  [Not true, a persistent old myth used to scare citizens.  The couple should have contacted a fawn rehabilitator, which is where the fawn went] ...

Virus to blame for deer foaming at the mouth, dropping dead in the San Juan Islands June 11, 2021 Washington, Seattle Times

... First discovered in California in 1993, the disease had been seen in Washington just once before this year. In 2017, about a dozen animals fell ill near Goldendale in Klickitat County... Last fall, the virus unexpectedly emerged up north..,

WDFW confirms AHD in San Juan Islands deer June 3, 2021 Washington, wa.gov

... Wildlife managers confirmed a viral infection known as adenovirus hemorrhagic disease (AHD) is affecting deer on the San Juan Islands this month... The disease is specific to members of the deer family and is not uncommon in other states, including Oregon where outbreaks occur every year. AHD was also found in British Columbia on the nearby Gulf Islands and on southern Vancouver Island during the fall of 2020..,

After being driven to near extinction, wolves are back in Washington. Can we coexist with them? May 31, 2021 Gazettextra

... Wolves don't ambush prey the way cougars do. They are what are called "coursing" predators, flowing like a river over the land, running animals to exhaustion ... It is no accident that wolf pups are born the same time elk and deer birth their young — creating food for the growing wolf pack...

10 deer reported dead on San Juan Islands: a virus could be to blame May 12, 2021 Washington, KING5

... WDFW state wildlife biologist Dr. Kristin Mansfield ... believes it to be cervid Adenovirus Hemorrhagic Disease (AHD)... It was first documented in Washington in 2017 in Klickitat County... British Columbia recorded its first outbreak among coastal deer on Vancouver Island in 2020..,

Legislature does not fund wildlife crossing project on Highway 97 May 11, 2021 Washington, The Spokesman-Review

... a key advocate of the project, the Legislature “did not resolve disagreements around how to raise revenue for the 16-year Forward Washington transportation projects spending package.” ...

Big year for deer in NCW and across Washington April 27, 2021 NCWLIFE News

... nearly 10,000 more hunters went into the field last year, compared to 2019 ... bigger numbers, likely due to increased deer population, and the general urge to get outdoors during the pandemic..,

Wolf numbers continue to grow in Washington state, but still no hunting as in Idaho April 23, 2021 Washington, OPB News

... The gray wolf population in Washington state increased by 22% in the past year, raising the minimum number of wolves documented by state and tribal biologists to 178 in 29 packs [in 2020] — up from 145 wolves and 26 packs at the end of 2019..,

Wildlife crossing project on Highway 97 may receive $18 million from legislature April 11, 2021 Washington, The Spokesman-Review

... The planned undercrossings, along with associated fencing and other needs, will cost roughly $12 million.  CNW, the Mule Deer Foundation, the Colville Confederated Tribes and others raised $200,000 and started work on the project in 2019...

WDFW plans Eastern Washington prescribed burns to improve habitat, reduce wildfire risk April 5, 2021 Washington, Dailyfly

...  Annual prescribed burns on Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) lands in eastern Washington are planned to start in April, as conditions allow. Controlled fire reduces the risk of wildfire and improves habitat for animals such as deer, elk, and bighorn sheep...

Video Below:  The Washington Predator-Prey Project is a five-year research effort on the effects of wolves and their competitors on ungulate populations in managed landscapes. The project looks at the impact to mule deer, white-tailed deer, and elk from wolves and smaller carnivores such as cougars, bobcats, and coyotes. - March 25, 2021

Washington wildlife managers considering passel of hunting rule changes March 21, 2021 Yahoo

... A vocal group of hunters in Northeast Washington has pushed for antlerpoint restrictions in that region. Between 2011 and 2014, there was a four-point minimum for whitetail deer in GMUs 117 and 121, despite WDFW staff not supporting the move. WDFW returned to all buck season in 2015...

Town considers deer options, no-feeding ordinance March 19, 2021 Washington, Whidbey News-Times

... the state Department of Fish and Wildlife said there’s nothing currently available [birth control] for the resident ungulates who roam the streets of the town... it hasn’t been used on blacktail deer... the mayor found trapping and killing to be an “ugly” and “extreme” response to the overpopulation problem...

Hunting groups worried sport is 'under attack' in Washington state January 12, 2021 Washington, Seattle Times

...  Thorburn points to a recently filed lawsuit looking to outlaw spring bear hunting and last year’s ban on coyote-killing contests. In 2019, the WDFW ended a popular antlerless deer hunt in Eastern Washington... Smith said ... the commission needs to start making policy decisions “grounded in sound science,” ...

Helicopters to capture mule deer in Chelan, Kittitas, and Okanogan counties in mid-January January 4, 2021 Washington, iFIBER One News

... Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife says it will summon professional crews to collect dozens of mule deer and fit them with GPS/satellite tracking collars... The collars are programmed to drop off the deer after four years...

Herd numbers linger below 5-year average September 25, 2020 Washington, Lewiston Morning Tribune

... in southeastern Washington ... late snow in the spring of 2019 was especially tough on deer  ... deer herds still recovering from the harsh winter in 2016-17 ... “We wouldn’t expect whitetail deer harvest to significantly improve until the 2021 season, and mule deer harvest by 2022,” ..,

Deer refuge undertakes lethal coyote control September 24, 2020 Washington, Wahkiakum County Eagle

... "We did conduct coyote control at the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-Tailed Deer this year after a year of low fawn survival," Myers said in a written statement. "An intensive study conducted on the refuge concluded that fawn survival was one of the biggest factors affecting the deer population, and the main reason for low fawn survival was coyote predation...

Wildlife, habitat take devastating hit from wildfires across region September 20, 2020 Washington, Sports and Weather Right Now

... Eastern Washington blazes ... have consumed roughly a half a million acres of shrub-steppe habitat critical to species from amphibians to mule deer from Yakima north to Brewster and the Colville Indian Reservation...

S-R Hunting Outlook 2020: Washington big game hunters have opportunity for harvest September 17, 2020 SWX Right Now

... In Northeast Washington ... Preseason surveys for the past three years yielded stable buck-to-doe and fawn-to-doe ratios...  the white-tailed deer population is down in District 2 due to a series of events starting with the drought and blue tongue outbreak of 2015 that lasted well into October... Last winter was mild and 2020 spring precipitation was up ..,

How does WDFW survey for deer? September 16, 2020 Washington, The Independent

... WDW biologists drive around in the early evening for two weeks every August and September... focused on getting pre-hunting season buck to doe ratios... For 2020, this range is 25- 41 bucks per 100 does. This is consistent with what has been observed over the past 10 years..,

Environmentalists say Washington’s wolf program is broken September 8, 2020 Washington, Heraldnet.com

... The current plan does not account for the declining population of deer and other ungulates that provide food for wolves in the wild, which has knocked the predator-prey relationship out of balance ...The DFW estimates the state’s wolf population grew to 145 animals in 26 packs in 2019..,

Washington Deer News and Information Archive by TopicPopulation and Management, Deer in the News, Disease, Suburban, Transportation

Washington Deer:     The 2021 deer kill was the lowest in twenty years.  Approximately 25 percent of the whitetails and 15 percent of the mule deer died from disease.  In 2022 hunting permits primarily for antlerless permit were reduced to help the herd recover.  Using hunting data and some population estimates from the state, an estimated 252,000 deer in 2021 and 278,00 in 2020.  

An estimate in the press for 2022 puts the population at 300,000 with 100,000 whitetails.  However the state does not provide a formal population estimate and has been reporting a general range of about 100,000 mule deer and 100,000 blacktail deer to the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife since 2013 although hunting data clearly shows fluctuations over that period.  The data used to create the chart below.

From the 2022 Hunting Outlook; "Despite disease outbreaks, all available harvest and survey data indicate white-tailed deer populations appear to be stable in all GMUs associated with District 1. According to harvest data, mule deer populations appear to be stable or slightly decreasing"  [page 14]    Population estimates from the state for some regions are available in the 2022 and 2021 Game Status and Trend reports.  2021 Hunting Outlook.  

Although hunting data indicates a drop in the deer population, the state estimates for the deer population from 2015 to 2022 of about 90,000 to 110,000 for mule deer and the same for blacktail deer although no estimate was provided for 2020 to 2022.  About 100,000 for each with an average of 110,000 whitetail deer giving an average population of about 310,000 which was the 2014 deer population estimate according to the Game Management Plan.   Nearly 10,000 more deer hunters in 2020, likely due to the pandemic and higher deer numbers east of the Cascades.  Some reports of declining deer populations.  In 2020 state biologists report a significant decline in deer and elk numbers over the past 24 years, partly attributed to predators.  The estimate below used the state estimate of about 310,000 deer in 2014 and hunting data.  Spreadsheet at the bottom of this column.

Washington Deer Population

Year     Estimate

2014*     310,000

2015     332,000

2016     307,000

2017     250,000

2018     272,000

2019     281,000

2020     278,000

2021     252,000

* 2014 State Estimate

Other years based on hunting data

 adjusted for the number of hunters.

Estimates rounded to the nearest thousand.

A more severe winter than normal in February 2019 put elk and deer in poor condition, reducing whitetail and mule deer populations in some areas.  Reduced elk permits for 2019 in the southeast and antlerless whitetails in the northeast to help the herd recover.  A more mild 2019-20 winter and lush 2020 spring in the northeast and a stable buck to doe ratio.  An estimated buck to doe ratio or 23:100 in 2019.  In 2020, deer were still recovering from the hard 2016-17 winter, reduced hunting to help deer and elk recover.  The mild start to the 2018-19 winter, followed by heavier snow reduced deer numbers in the southeast.

Chart below from the 2022 Range-wide Status of Black-tailed and Mule Deer.  Mule Deer Working Group. Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA).

Results of the Washington deer hunt 2006 to 2021

According to the 2021 WAFWA:  "Harvest estimates and composition ratios from annual monitoring efforts for mule deer indicate populations along the northern Cascade Mountains, are likely stable to increasing. However, southern herds remain stable to decreasing." (page 44)

An increase in population for 2018 after several down years, but populations in eastern Washington are still recovering from the 2015 drought and outbreak of bluetongue.  Reduced hunting permits and no antlerless hunting for  whitetails in the east in 2019 after severe winters in 2016 and 2017.  The 2018 Big Game Report gives some regional population estimates for deer and elk.

An  estimated at 300,000 to 320,000 deer in 2014 according to the 2015 - 2024 Game Management Plan, p. 62 [PDF]. For 2015, an estimated 90,000 to 100,000 blacktails and about the same 90,000 to 100,000 mule deer.  Deer and elk tags were reduced for the 2017-18 hunt in eastern parts of the state because the hard winter of 2016-17.  A hard winter in 2015-16 also reduced deer and elk populations.  An outbreak of bluetongue in 2015, drought, and wildfires reduced deer populations.  

Whitetail deer in Northeast Washington experienced major winters kills in the winters of '07 and '08.  White-tails predominate in the northeast, mule deer in the southeast. With the decline of logging and new forest management practices, the deer population has declined by about 40 percent in some parts of the Southwest since 2002, mostly blacktails; numbers are stronger in the interior Southwest.   Another major factor reducing deer habitat is the conversion of farm and forest lands into residential development and reduced alfalfa and cereal production [Deer Status Report, 2014, PDF].  Efforts are ongoing to support the few remaining Columbian white-tailed deer, once thought to be extinct. 2015 Draft Mule Deer Management Plan

The 2013 total deer harvest was 33,657 with 27,448 antlered deer and 6,209 antlerless deer taken with a hunter success rate of 27.2 percent.  The antlerless harvest rose from 15.7% of the total in 1998 to 25.6 percent in 2012.  Harvest Statistics   

The total deer harvest in 2012 was similar to 1997, with a recent peak in the early 2000's at around 40,000.  Whitetail deer are about 35 percent of the harvest and are more numerous in the northeast, mule deer are found in the higher elevations, blacktails found along the coast are about 32 percent of the harvest.  The management goal for mule deer was 15 to 19 bucks per 100 does after hunting The low buck to doe ratio has been suspected as a factor in their decline.

The killing of two fawns taken from a rehabilitation center by WDFW resulted in public outcry in 2018.

Population Estimate:  A population estimate of 120,000 whitetails in 2009.   

According to the White-tailed Management Plan: "From 2001 through 2008 white-tailed deer comprised approximately 35% of the annual hunter harvest of all deer in Washington."

Chart below from the 2015 Range-wide Status of Black-tailed and Mule Deer.  Mule Deer Working Group. Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA).

Results of the Washington deer hunt 2001 to 2014

Analyzed in "Wolf Diets, And Washington Deer And Elk Trends" by Andy Walgamott this graph illustrates the downward trend of the deer population as tracked by the buck harvest plotted against the inverse of the human population trend.  As the human population rises the deer population falls over the years 2000 to 2021.

Disease:  The first case of Adenovirus Hemorrhagic disease (AHD) in 2017.  A blue tongue outbreak in 2015.  Outbreaks of AHD in 2020 in the north and in 2021 among deer in the San Juan Islands and Skagit County then later becoming more widespread.  An AHD outbreak in 2022 around Goldendale, the location of the first outbreak.

Chronic Wasting Disease:   Washington has ramped up testing, but no positives as of 2022.  No positives as of 2023, but a special lottery to encourage hunters to have deer tested.

History:  White-tail deer numbers were plentiful in in the 1800's, but were reduced by over hunting by the early 1900's.  Early explorers saw deer swimming between the San Juan Islands.  Indians were burning underbrush to improve deer habitat.  From the Washing White-tailed deer management plan:  "White-tailed deer were found in abundance in the foothills and valleys of the Northwest by Euro- American explorers and trappers in the early 1800s"

From the 2015 Draft Mule Deer Plan:  "Although records of historic mule deer population trends are limited, Julander and Low  reported a marked decline in populations due to severe weather during the winter of 1889. They also reported an increase in population between 1935 and 1968.  Mule deer populations apparently reached very low numbers in eastern Washington during 1969, 1971, and 1972, during unseasonably harsh winters. Mule deer populations increased from 1973 until the mid-1980s.  Deer hunter numbers and also probably deer population peaked in 1979, with a recent peak in the 1990sDrought conditions developed in eastern Washington starting in 1986, and then eased somewhat in the mid-1990s, and became more pronounced in the early 2000s."  Deer hunter numbers and also probably deer population peaked in 1979, with a recent peak in the 1990s.  

Deer have been in the state since at least 4.9 million years ago, as documented by a recent deer bone recovered in Ellensberg.  Deer were thought to have crossed into North America using the Bering Sea land bridge.

Columbian Whitetails   A low of only 545  in 2002 with an estimated population of 1,296 deer in 2022.

CaribouIn 2019, the last woodland caribou in Washington and the contiguous United States was captures and shipped to a breeding facility in British Columbia.

Moose  Between 4,000 and 6,000 in 2017.  An estimated 5,000 in 2015.  The first confirmed moose sighting was made in Pend Oreille County in the early 1950s. Surveys in the early 1970s estimated a population of about 60 moose. The first hunting season was opened in 1977. 

Elk were nearly wiped out in the late 1800s.  An estimated 45,000 to 50,000 in 2023.

Cougar population in 2018 estimated between 1,900 to 2,100 animals, not counting kittens.  Sightings have increased over recent years.  Population estimated at 2,500 in 2015.

Wolf  In 2021, the state counted 206 wolves among 33 packs.  A minimum of  178 in 29 packs in 2020.  A minimum of 126 wolves in 2019 with an estimate of 200 wolves.  A minimum of 115 in 2018. The count at the end of 2016 was 115.  A minimum of 68 in 2014, up from 24 in 2010.

Report Poaching:  Information can be submitted anonymously:  Call the state Poaching Hotline, (877) 933-9847,  Email the tip to reportpoaching@dfw.wa.gov

Other useful links:

- Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife  

- Mule deer Geodatabase     

- Predator Ecology Lab

- Washington Prescribed Fire Council      

Washington Deer Population