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Snippet from Wikipedia: White-tailed deer

The white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), also known as the whitetail or Virginia deer, is a medium-sized deer native to North America, Central America, Ecuador, and South America as far south as Peru and Bolivia. It has also been introduced to New Zealand, Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, the Bahamas, the Lesser Antilles, and some countries in Europe, such as the Czech Republic, Finland, Romania, Serbia, Germany, and France. In the Americas, it is the most widely distributed wild ungulate.

In North America, the species is widely distributed east of the Rocky Mountains as well as in southwestern Arizona and most of Mexico, aside from Lower California. It is mostly replaced by the black-tailed or mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) from that point west except for in mixed deciduous riparian corridors, river valley bottomlands, and lower foothills of the northern Rocky Mountain region from South Dakota west to eastern Washington and eastern Oregon and north to northeastern British Columbia and southern Yukon, including in the Montana Valley and Foothill grasslands. Texas is home to the most white-tailed deer of any U.S. state or Canadian province, with an estimated population of over four million. Notably high populations of white-tailed deer occur in the Edwards Plateau of Central Texas. Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Illinois, Wisconsin, Maryland, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana also boast high deer densities.

The conversion of land adjacent to the Canadian Rockies into agriculture use and partial clear-cutting of coniferous trees (resulting in widespread deciduous vegetation) has been favorable to the white-tailed deer and has pushed its distribution to as far north as Yukon. Populations of deer around the Great Lakes have also expanded their range northwards, due to conversion of land to agricultural uses favoring more deciduous vegetation, and local caribou and moose populations. The westernmost population of the species, known as the Columbian white-tailed deer, once was widespread in the mixed forests along the Willamette and Cowlitz River valleys of western Oregon and southwestern Washington, but today its numbers have been considerably reduced, and it is classified as near-threatened. This population is separated from other white-tailed deer populations.

Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern.</ref>


The white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), also known as the Virginia deer or simply as the whitetail, is a medium-sized deer native to the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America as far south as Peru. It has also been introduced to New Zealand and some countries in Europe, such as Finland, the Czech Republic, and Serbia. In the Americas, it is the most widely distributed wild ungulate.

In North America, the species is widely distributed east of the Rocky Mountains, but elsewhere, it is mostly replaced by the black-tailed or mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus). In western North America, it is found in aspen parklands and deciduous river bottomlands within the central and northern Great Plains, and in mixed deciduous riparian corridors, river valley bottomlands, and lower foothills of the northern Rocky Mountain regions from South Dakota and Wyoming to southeastern British Columbia, including the Montana Valley and Foothill grasslands.

The conversion of land adjacent to the northern Rockies into agriculture use and partial clear-cutting of coniferous trees (resulting in widespread deciduous vegetation) has been favorable to the white-tailed deer and has pushed its distribution to as far north as Prince George, British Columbia. Populations of deer around the Great Lakes have also expanded their range northwards, due to conversion of land to agricultural uses favoring more deciduous vegetation, and local caribou and moose populations. The westernmost population of the species, known as the Columbian white-tailed deer, once was widespread in the mixed forests along the Willamette and Cowlitz River valleys of western Oregon and southwestern Washington, but today its numbers have been considerably reduced, and it is classified as near-threatened.


some taxonomists have attempted to separate white-tailed deer into a host of subspecies, based largely in morphological differences. Genetic studies,

however, suggest that there are fewer subspecies within the animal's range, as compared to the 30 to 40 subspecies that some scientists described in the last century. The Florida Key deer, O. virginianus clavium, and the Columbian white-tailed deer, O. virginianus leucurus, are both listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. In the United States, the Virginia white-tail, O. virginianus virginianus, is among the most widespread subspecies. The white-tailed deer species has tremendous genetic variation and is adaptable to several environments. Several local deer populations, especially in the southern states, are descended from white-tailed deer transplanted from various localities east of the Continental Divide. Some of these deer may have been from as far north as the Great Lakes region to as far west as Texas, yet are also quite at home in the Appalachian and Piedmont regions of the south. These deer over time have intermixed with the local indigenous deer (virginianus and/or macrourus) populations.

Central and South America have a complex number of white-tailed deer subspecies that range from Guatemala as far south as Peru. This list of subspecies of deer is more exhaustive than the list of North American subspecies, and the number of subspecies is also questionable. However, the white-tailed deer populations in these areas are difficult to study, due to over-hunting many parts and lack of protection. Some areas no longer carry deer, so it is difficult to assess the genetic difference of these animals.




]] Some subspecies names, ordered alphabetically except first entry:<ref>White-tailed deer, Mammals Species of the World. 3rd. ed.</ref><ref>Cervidae, Deer's Life</ref>

  • O. v. virginianus&nbsp;– Virginia Whitetailed deer or Southern white-tailed deer
  • O. v. acapulcensis&nbsp;– Acapulco white-tailed deer (southern Mexico)
  • O. v. borealis&nbsp;– Northern (woodland) white-tailed deer (the largest and darkest white-tailed deer)
  • O. v. cariacou&nbsp;– (French Guiana and north Brazil)
  • O. v. carminis&nbsp;– Carmen Mountains Jorge deer
  • O. v. chiriquensis&nbsp;– Chiriqui white-tailed deer (Panama)
  • O. v. clavium&nbsp;– Key Deer or Florida Keys white-tailed deer found (Florida Keys)
  • O. v. couesi&nbsp;– Coues white-tailed deer, Arizona white-tailed deer, or fantail deer
  • O. v. curassavicus&nbsp;– (Curaçao)
  • O. v. dacotensis&nbsp;– Dakota white-tailed deer or Northern plains white-tailed deer (most northerly distribution, rivals the Northern white-tailed deer in size)
  • O. v. goudotii&nbsp;– (Colombia (Andes) and west Venezuela)
  • O. v. gymnotis&nbsp;– South American white-tailed deer (northern half of Venezuela, including Venezuela's Llanos Region)
  • O. v. idahoensis – White-tailed deer (Western Canada, Idaho, Eastern Washington)<ref>


  • O. v. leucurus&nbsp;– Columbian white-tailed deer (Oregon and western coastal area)
  • O. v. macrourus&nbsp;– Kansas white-tailed deer
  • O. v. margaritae&nbsp;– (Margarita Island)
  • O. v. mcilhennyi&nbsp;– Avery Island white-tailed deer
  • O. v. mexicanus&nbsp;– Mexican white-tailed deer (central Mexico)
  • O. v. miquihuanensis&nbsp;– Miquihuan white-tailed deer (central Mexico)
  • O. v. nelsoni&nbsp;– Chiapas white-tailed deer (southern Mexico and Guatemala)
  • O. v. nemoralis&nbsp;– (Central America, round the Gulf of Mexico to Surinam further restricted to from Honduras to Panama)
  • O. v. nigribarbis&nbsp;– Blackbeard Island white-tailed deer
  • O. v. oaxacensis&nbsp;– Oaxaca white-tailed deer (southern Mexico)
  • O. v. ochrourus&nbsp;– (Tawny) Northwest white-tailed deer or Northern Rocky Mountains white-tailed deer
  • O. v. osceola&nbsp;– Florida coastal white-tailed deer
  • O. v. peruvianus&nbsp;– South American white-tailed deer or Andean white-tailed deer (most southerly distribution in Peru and possibly, Bolivia)
  • O. v. rothschildi&nbsp;– Coiba Island white-tailed deer
  • O. v. seminolus&nbsp;– Florida white-tailed deer
  • O. v. sinaloae&nbsp;– Sinaloa white-tailed deer (mid-western Mexico)
  • O. v. taurinsulae&nbsp;– Bulls Island white-tailed deer
  • O. v. texanus&nbsp;– Texas white-tailed deer
  • O. v. truei&nbsp;– Central American white-tailed deer (Costa Rica, Nicaragua and adjacent states)
  • O. v. thomasi&nbsp;– Mexican Lowland white-tailed deer
  • O. v. toltecus&nbsp;– Rain Forest white-tailed deer (southern Mexico)
  • O. v. tropicalis&nbsp;– Peru and Ecuador (possibly Colombia)
  • O. v. ustus&nbsp;– Ecuador (possibly southern of Colombia and northern of Peru)
  • O. v. venatorius&nbsp;– Hunting Island white-tailed deer
  • O. v. veraecrucis&nbsp;– Northern Vera Cruz white-tailed deer
  • O. v. yucatanensis&nbsp;– Yucatán white-tailed deer

Range map of subspecies

File:Odocoileus virginianus NA map.svg

File:Odocoileus virginianus SA map.svg


The deer's coat is a reddish-brown in the spring and summer and turns to a grey-brown throughout the fall and winter. The deer can be recognized by the characteristic white underside to its tail. The deer will raise its tail when it is alarmed to flag the other deer. There is a population of white-tailed deer in the state of New York that is entirely white (except for areas like their noses and toes)—not albino—in color. The former Seneca Army Depot in Romulus, New York, has the largest known concentration of white deer. Strong conservation efforts have allowed white deer to thrive within the confines of the depot. White-tailed deer's horizontally slit pupil allows for good night time vision and color vision during the day.

Size and weight

The white-tailed deer is highly variable in size, generally following Bergmann's rule that the average size is larger further away from the Equator. North American male deer (also known as a buck or stag) usually weighs

but, in rare cases, bucks in excess of

have been recorded. Mature bucks over 400 pounds are recorded in the northernmost reaches of their native range, specifically, Minnesota and Ontario. In 1926, Carl J. Lenander, Jr. took a white-tailed buck near Tofte, MN, that weighed

after it was field-dressed (internal organs removed) and was estimated at

when alive.<ref>

</ref> The female (doe) in North America usually weighs from

. White-tailed deer from the tropics and the Florida Keys are markedly smaller-bodied than temperate populations, averaging

, with an occasional adult female as small as


</ref> White-tailed deer from the Andes are larger than other tropical deer of this species and have thick, slightly woolly-looking fur. Length ranges from

, including a tail of

, and the shoulder height is

.<ref name=“”>

</ref><ref>Boitani, Luigi, Simon & Schuster's Guide to Mammals. Simon & Schuster/Touchstone Books (1984), ISBN 978-0-671-42805-1</ref> Including all races, the average summer weight of adult males is

and is

in adult females.<ref>:// (2011).</ref>

Deer have dichromatic (two-color) vision with blue and yellow primaries;<ref>

</ref> humans have trichromatic vision. Thus deer poorly distinguish the oranges and reds that stand out so well to humans.<ref>FWC, Deer colorblind to orange, but if you glow ...,, February 23, 2009. This is a report of<br/>G. H. Jacobs, J. F. Deegan, J. Neitz, B. P. Murphy, K. V. Miller and R. L. Marchinton, "Electrophysiological measurements of spectral mechanisms in the retinas of two cervids: white-tailed deer (''Odocoileus virginianus'') and fallow deer (''Dama dama'')", Journal of Comparative Physiology A, volume 174, number 5, pages 551-557, 1994.</ref> This makes it very convenient to use deer-hunter orange as a safety color on caps and clothing to avoid accidental shootings during hunting seasons.


Males re-grow their antlers every year. About 1 in 10,000 females also have antlers, although this is usually associated with hermaphroditism.<ref>Wislocki G.B. 1954 Antlers in Female Deer, with a Report of Three Cases in Odocoileus. Journal of Mammalogy 35(4):486-495.</ref> Bucks without branching antlers are often termed “Spikehorn”, “spiked bucks”, “spike bucks” or simply “spike”. The spikes can be quite long or very short. Length and branching of antlers is determined by nutrition, age, and genetics. Rack growth tends to be very important from late spring until about a month before velvet sheds. During this time frame damage that may be done to the racks tends to be permanent. Healthy deer in some areas that are well fed can have eight-point branching antlers as yearlings (one and a half years old).<ref>

</ref> The number of points, the length or thickness of the antlers are a general indication of age but cannot be relied upon for positive aging. A better indication of age is the length of the snout and the color of the coat, with older deer tending to have longer snouts and grayer coats. Some say that deer that have spiked antlers should be culled from the population to produce larger branching antler genetics (antler size does not indicate overall health), and some bucks' antlers never will be wall trophies. Where antler growth nutritional needs are met (good mineral sources, i.e., calcium) and good genetics combine it can produce wall trophies in some of their range.<ref>

</ref> Spiked bucks are different from “button bucks” or “nubbin' bucks”, that are male fawns and are generally about six to nine months of age during their first winter. They have skin covered nobs on their heads. They can have bony protrusions up to a half inch in length, but that is very rare, and they are not the same as spikes.

Antlers begin to grow in late spring, covered with a highly vascularised tissue known as velvet. Bucks either have a typical or non-typical antler arrangement. Typical antlers are symmetrical and the points grow straight up off the main beam. Non-typical antlers are asymmetrical and the points may project at any angle from the main beam. These descriptions are not the only limitations for typical and non-typical antler arrangement. The Boone and Crockett or Pope & Young scoring systems also define relative degrees of typicality and atypicality by procedures to measure what proportion of the antlers are asymmetrical. Therefore, bucks with only slight asymmetry will often be scored as “typical”. A buck's inside spread can be anywhere from 3–25&nbsp;in (8–64&nbsp;cm). Bucks shed their antlers when all females have been bred, from late December to February.


White-tailed deer are generalists and can adapt to a wide variety of habitats.<ref>Christian Alejandro Delfin Alfonso, “Comparison of geographic distribution models of white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus (Zimmermann, 1780) subspecies in Mexico: biological and management implications”. Therya (2010) 1(1):41-68</ref> The largest deer occur in the temperate regions of Canada and United States. The Northern white-tailed deer (borealis), Dakota white-tailed deer (dacotensis), and Northwest white-tailed deer (ochrourus) are some of the largest animals, with large antlers. The smallest deer occur in the Florida Keys and in partially wooded lowlands in the neotropics.

Although most often thought of as forest animals depending on relatively small openings and edges, white-tailed deer can equally adapt themselves to life in more open prairie, savanna woodlands, and sage communities as in the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. These savanna-adapted deer have relatively large antlers in proportion to their body size and large tails. Also, there is a noticeable difference in size between male and female deer of the savannas. The Texas white-tailed deer (texanus), of the prairies and oak savannas of Texas and parts of Mexico, are the largest savanna-adapted deer in the Southwest, with impressive antlers that might rival deer found in Canada and the northern United States. There are also populations of Arizona (couesi) and Carmen Mountains (carminis) white-tailed deer that inhabit montane mixed oak and pine woodland communities.<ref>Ffolliott, P. F. and Gallina, S. (eds). 1981. “Deer biology, habitat requirements and Management in Western North America”. Instituto de Ecología, A. C., México, D.F</ref> The Arizona and Carmen Mountains deer are smaller but may also have impressive antlers, considering their size. The white-tailed deer of the Llanos region of Colombia and Venezuela (apurensis and gymnotis) have antler dimensions that are similar to the Arizona white-tailed deer.

In western regions of the United States and Canada, the white-tailed deer range overlaps with those of the black-tailed deer and mule deer. White-tail incursions in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas has resulted in some hybrids. In the extreme north of the range, their habitat is also used by moose in some areas. White-tailed deer may occur in areas that are also exploited by elk (wapiti) such as in mixed deciduous river valley bottomlands and formerly in the mixed deciduous forest of Eastern United States. In places such as Glacier National Park in Montana and several national parks in the Columbian Mountains (Mount Revelstoke National Park) and Canadian Rocky Mountains, as well as in the Yukon Territory ( Yoho National Park and Kootenay National Park), white-tailed deer are shy and more reclusive than the coexisting mule deer, elk, and moose.

Central American white-tailed deer prefer tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests, seasonal mixed deciduous forests, savanna, and adjacent wetland habitats over dense tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests. South American subspecies of white-tailed deer live in two types of environments. The first type, similar to the Central American deer, consists of savannas, dry deciduous forests, and riparian corridors that cover much of Venezuela and eastern Colombia.<ref>Brokx, P. A. 1984. “White-tailed deer of South America”. In: L.K. Halls (ed.), Ecology and Management of the White-Tailed Deer, pp. 525-546. Stackpole Company, Harrisburg, PA.</ref> The other type is the higher elevation mountain grassland/mixed forest ecozones in the Andes Mountains, from Venezuela to Peru. The Andean white-tailed deer seem to retain gray coats due to the colder weather at high altitudes, whereas the lowland savanna forms retain the reddish brown coats. South American white-tailed deer, like those in Central America, also generally avoid dense moist broadleaf forests.

Since the second half of the nineteenth century, white-tailed deer have been introduced to Europe.<ref name=erhardova71>Erhardová-Kotrlá, B., 1971. The occurrence of Fascioloides magna (Bassi, 1875) in Czechoslovakia. Academia, Prague, 155 pp.</ref> A population of white-tailed deer in the Brdy area remains stable today.<ref>

</ref> In 1935, white-tailed deer were introduced to Finland. The introduction was successful, and the deer have recently begun spreading through northern Scandinavia and southern Karelia, competing with, and sometimes displacing, native fauna. The current population of some 30,000 deer originate from four animals provided by Finnish Americans from Minnesota.


Whitetail deer eat large varieties of food, commonly eating legumes and foraging on other plants, including shoots, leaves, cacti, and grasses. They also eat acorns, fruit, and corn. Their special stomach allows them to eat some things that humans cannot, such as mushrooms and poison ivy. Their diet varies by season according to availability of food sources. They will also eat hay, grass, white clover, and other food that they can find in a farm yard. Though almost entirely herbivorous, white-tailed deer have been known to opportunistically feed on nesting songbirds, field mice, and birds trapped in Mist nets.<ref>


The white-tailed deer is a ruminant, which means it has a four-chambered stomach. Each chamber has a different and specific function that allows the deer to quickly eat a variety of different food, digesting it at a later time in a safe area of cover. The Whitetail stomach hosts a complex set of bacteria that change as the deer's diet changes through the seasons. If the bacteria necessary for digestion of a particular food (e.g., hay) are absent it will not be digested.<ref>Nelson, Richard. Heart and Blood, Living With Deer In America, Chap. 1</ref>


There are several natural predators of white-tailed deer. Wolves, cougars, American alligators, and (in the tropics) jaguars are the more effective natural predators of white-tailed deer. These predators frequently pick out easily caught young or infirm deer (which is believed to incidentally improve the genetic stock of a population) but can and do take healthy adults of any size. Bobcats, lynxes, bears, wolverines, and packs of coyotes usually will prey mainly on deer fawns. Bears may sometimes attack adult deer while lynxes, coyotes, wolverines and bobcats are most likely to take adult deer when the ungulates are weakened by harsh winter weather.<ref name=“”/> Many scavengers rely on deer as carrion, including New World vultures, raptors, foxes, and corvids. Few wild predators can afford to be picky and any will readily consume deer as carrion. There are records of American Crows attempting to predate white-tailed deer fawns by pecking around their face and eyes, though there are no accounts of successful predation.<ref>The American Crow and Common Raven by Lawrence Kilham. Texas A&M University Press (1990), ISBN 0890964661</ref> Occasionally, both Golden and Bald Eagles may capture deer fawns with their talons.<ref name=RaptorsWorld>

</ref> In one case, a Golden Eagle was filmed in Illinois unsuccessfully trying to predate a large mature white-tailed deer.<ref>


White-tailed deer typically respond to the presence of potential predators by breathing very heavily (also called blowing) and running away. When they blow the sound alerts all of the other deer in the area. As they run, the flash of their white tails warns other deer (especially in mothers with young) of their alarm.<ref name= Smith></ref> Most natural predators of white-tailed deer hunt by surprising them, engaging in a stealthy ambush, although canids like wolves and coyotes may chase and ambush them over a long period, hoping to exhaust the prey. Felid predators typically try to suffocate the deer by biting them on the throat. In cougars and jaguars, they initially knock the deer off-balance with their own powerful forelegs, whereas in small bobcats and lynxes, they attempt to jump onto the deer to give them a killing bite. In the case of canids and wolverines, the predators try to bite at their limbs and flanks, hobbling them, until they can reach vital organs and the deer can be bled out. Bears, who usually target fawns, will often simply knock down the prey and then start eating it while it is still alive.<ref name=Mathews>Mathews, N. E.; Porter, W. F (1988). Black bear predation on white-tailed deer neonates in the central Adirondacks. Canadian Journal of Zoology 66 (5): 1241–1242.</ref><ref name=Ozoga>Ozoga, J. J., and Clute, R.K. (1988). Mortality rates of marked and unmarked fawns. Journal of Wildlife Management 52 (3): 549–551.</ref> Alligators snatch deer as the ungulates try to drink from or cross around water, grabbing them with their powerful jaws and dragging them into the water to be drowned.<ref>


Most primary natural predators of white-tailed deer have been basically extirpated in eastern North America, with a very small number of reintroduced red wolves, which are nearly extinct, around North Carolina and a small remnant population of Florida panthers, a subspecies of the cougar. Gray wolves, the leading cause of deer mortality where they overlap, co-occur with white-tails in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and parts of Canada.<ref name= Smith/> This almost certainly plays a factor in the overpopulation issues with this species.<ref name= Smith/> Coyotes, widespread and with a rapidly expanding population, are often the only major non-human predator of the species, besides an occasional domestic dog.<ref name= Smith/> In some areas, American black bears are also significant predators.<ref name=Ozoga/><ref name=Mathews/> In northcentral Pennsylvania, black bears were found be nearly as common predators of fawns as coyotes.<ref>Survival Rates, Cause-specific Mortailty, and Landscape Influence on Survival of White-tailed Deer Fawns in Northcentral PA</ref> Bobcats, still somewhat widely found, usually only exploit deer as prey when smaller prey is scarce.<ref>Labisky, Ronald F.; Margaret C. Boulay (April 1998). “Behaviors of Bobcats Preying on White-tailed Deer in the Everglades”. The American Midland Naturalist 139 (2): 275–281.</ref> There have been discussions regarding the possible reintroduction of gray wolves and cougars to sections of the eastern United States, largely because of the apparent controlling effect they have through deer predation on local ecosystems, as has been illustrated in the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park and their controlling effect on previously overpopulated elk.<ref>

</ref> However, due to the heavy urban development in much of the East and fear for livestock and human lives, such ideas have ultimately been rejected by local communities and/or by government services and have not been carried through.<ref>




In areas where they are heavily hunted by humans, deer run almost immediately away from people and are quite wary even where not heavily hunted. The deer of Virginia can run faster than their predators and have been recorded at speed 75&nbsp;km/h (47&nbsp;mph),<ref>

</ref> this ranks them amongst the fastest of all cervids, alongside the Eurasian roe deer. They can also make jumps

meters high and up to

in length. When shot at the white-tailed deer will run at high speeds with its tail down and between its legs. If frightened the deer will hop in a zig-zag with its tail straight up.

Forest degradation

In parts of the eastern United States, some negative effects of high deer densities have been noted, such as forest degradation from overbrowsing by the deer, as well as frequent collisions with cars and trucks (discussed below). In northeastern hardwood forests, high-density deer populations affect plant succession, particularly following clear-cuts and patch cuts. In succession without deer, annual herbs and woody plants are followed by commercially-valuable, shade-tolerant oak and maple. The shade-tolerant trees prevent the invasion of less commercial cherry and American beech, which are stronger nutrient competitors but not as shade tolerant. Although deer eat shade-tolerant plants and acorns, this is not the only way deer can shift the balance in favor of nutrient competitors. When deer consume earlier-succession plants, this allows in enough light for nutrient competitors to invade. Since slow growing oaks need several decades to develop root systems sufficient to compete with faster growing species, removal of the canopy prior to that point amplifies the effect of deer on succession. It is even possible that high density deer populations could browse eastern hemlock seedlings out of existence in northern hardwood forests.<ref>

</ref> Ecologists have also expressed concern over the facilitative effect high deer populations have on invasions of exotic plant species. In a study of eastern hemlock forests, browsing by white-tailed deer caused populations of three exotic plants to rise faster than they do in the areas which are absent of deer. Seedlings of the three invading species rose exponentially with deer density, while the most common native species fell exponentially with deer density, because deer were preferentially eating the native species. The effects of deer on the invasive and native plants were magnified in cases of canopy disturbance.<ref>



in Florida—the does lost them by entering a Mangrove thicket too dense for the bucks' antlers.]]

Males compete for the opportunity of breeding females. Sparring among males determines a dominance hierarchy.<ref name=“Ditchkoff 2001”>Ditchkoff, S. S., Lochmiller, Robert L., Masters, Ronald E., Hoofer, Steven R., Van Den Bussche, Ronald A. (2001). “Major-Histocompatibility-Complex-Associated Variation In Secondary Sexual Traits Of White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus Virginianus): Evidence For Good-Genes Advertisement.” Evolution 55(3): 616–625.</ref> Bucks will attempt to copulate with as many females as possible, losing physical condition since they rarely eat or rest during the rut. The general geographical trend is for the rut to be shorter in duration at increased latitude. There are many factors as to how intense the “rutting season” will be. Air temperature is one major factor of this intensity. Any time the temperature rises above

, the males will do much less traveling looking for females, or they will be subject to overheating or dehydrating. Another factor for the strength in rutting activity is competition. If there are numerous males in a particular area, then they will compete more for the females. If there are fewer males or more females, then the selection process will not need to be as competitive.


Females enter estrus, colloquially called the ''rut'', in the autumn, normally in late October or early November, triggered mainly by the declining photoperiod. Sexual maturation of females depends on population density as well as availability of food.<ref>

</ref> Young females will often flee from an area heavily populated with males. Females can mature in their first year,

although this is unusual and would occur only at very low population levels. Most females mature at 1–2 years of age. Most are not able to reproduce until six months after they mature.

Copulation is relatively short, and takes place during a brief copulatory jump.<ref>


<!– Further information can be found here:,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&fp=86ddbf3dd87f247c&bpcl=38625945&biw=1366&bih=631 –>

Females give birth to 1–3 spotted young, known as fawns, in mid to late spring, generally in May or June. Fawns lose their spots during the first summer and will weigh from 44 to 77 pounds (20 to 35&nbsp;kg) by the first winter. Male fawns tend to be slightly larger and heavier than females. For the first four weeks, fawns mostly lie still and hide in vegetation while their mothers forage. They are then able to follow their mothers on foraging trips. They are supposedly weaned after 8–10 weeks, but cases have been seen where mothers have continued to allow nursing long after the fawns have lost their spots (for several months, or until the end of fall)<as seen by rehabilitators and other studies>. Males will leave their mothers after a year and females leave after two.

Bucks are generally sexually mature at 1.5 years old and will begin to breed even in populations stacked with older bucks.


White-tailed deer communicate in many different ways using sounds, scent, body language, and marking. In addition to the aforementioned blowing in the presence of danger, all white-tailed deer are capable of producing audible noises unique to each animal. Fawns release a high-pitched squeal, known as a bleat, to call out to their mothers.<ref name=“vocalization”>Thomas D. Atkeson, R. Larry Marchinton and Karl V. Miller, (1988). “Vocalizations of White-tailed Deer”, American Midland Naturalist, 120(1): 194-200.</ref> This bleat deepens as the fawn grows until it becomes the grunt of the mature deer-a guttural sound that will attract the attention of any other deer in the area. A doe will make maternal grunts when searching for her bedded fawns.<ref name=“vocalization”/> Bucks for their part also grunt, at a pitch lower than that of the doe; this grunt deepens as the buck matures. In addition to grunting, both does and bucks also snort, a sound that often signals an imminent threat. Mature bucks also produce a grunt-snort-wheeze pattern, unique to each animal, that asserts its dominance, aggression and hostility.<ref name=“vocalization”/> Another way white-tailed deer communicate is through the use of their white tail. When spooked, it will raise its tail to warn the other deer in the immediate area.


Human interactions


]] By the early 20th century, commercial exploitation, unregulated hunting and poor land-use practices such as deforestation had severely depressed deer populations in much of their range. For example, by about 1930, the U.S. population was thought to number about 300,000.<ref>Joel M. Lerner, “Right plants (and fences) can keep deer at bay,” The Columbus Dispatch, July 21, 2009. Accessed December 27, 2012.</ref> After an outcry by hunters and other conservation ecologists, commercial exploitation of deer became illegal and conservation programs along with regulated hunting were introduced. The Associated Press reported in 2005 that estimates put the deer population in the United States at around 30 million.<ref>Mark Johnson, “Deer eating away at forests nationwide,” The Associated Press, January 18, 2005. Accessed December 27, 2012.</ref> Conservation practices have proved so successful that, in parts of their range, the white-tailed deer populations currently far exceed their carrying capacity and the animal may be considered a nuisance. The lack of natural predators (which normally cull young, sick or infirm specimens) has undoubtedly contributed to the locally abundant populations.

that suffered major damage after striking a white-tailed deer in Wisconsin.]]

At high population densities, farmers can suffer economic damage by deer depredation of cash crops, especially in corn and orchards. It has become nearly impossible to grow some crops in some areas unless very burdensome deer-deterring measures are taken. Deer are excellent fence-jumpers, and their fear of motion and sounds meant to scare them away is soon dulled. Deer can prevent successful reforestation following logging, and have severe impacts on native plants and animals in parks and natural areas.<ref>Côté, SD, TP Rooney, JP Tremblay, C Dussault, and DM Waller. 2004. Ecological impacts of deer overabundance. Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics 35: 113-147.</ref> Large populations of deer particularly can decimate forest undergrowth. They also cause substantial damage to landscape plants in suburban areas, leading to limited hunting or trapping to relocate or sterilize them. Due to their overpopulation, they frequently overcrowd the now fragmented woodland areas of the Eastern U.S. and are forced to wander into suburban and urban habitats that are less than ideal for the species. Motor vehicle collisions with deer are a serious problem in many parts of the animal's range, especially at night and during rutting season, causing injuries and fatalities among both deer and humans. Vehicular damage can be substantial in some cases.<ref>Warning to Motorists: Fall Is Peak Season for Deer-Vehicle Collisions, Insurance Information Institute, October 1, 2009</ref> Deer are also the primary vector for the spread of tick borne illnesses and diseases, such as Lyme disease and babesiosis.<ref>Tackling Ticks That Spread Lyme Disease, Agricultural Research magazine, March 1998</ref>

In the U.S., the species is the state animal of Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina, the wildlife symbol of Wisconsin, and game animal of Oklahoma. The profile of a white-tailed deer buck caps the coat of arms of Vermont and can be seen in the flag of Vermont and in stained glass at the Vermont State House. It is the national animal of Honduras, and the provincial animal of Canadian Saskatchewan and Finnish Pirkanmaa. Texas is home to the most white-tailed deer of any U.S. state or Canadian province, with an estimated population of over four million. Notably high populations of white-tailed deer occur in the Edwards Plateau of Central Texas. Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Illinois, Wisconsin, Maryland, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Indiana also boast high deer densities. In 1884, one of the first hunts of white-tailed deer in Europe was conducted in Opočno and Dobříš (Brdy mountains area), in what is now the Czech Republic.

See also


Further reading

white-tailed_deer.txt · Last modified: 2020/03/12 18:39 (external edit)