Control and Management of Deer

White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) White-tailed deer line drawing.

Did You Know?

Researchers believe that the United States has more deer today than when Columbus landed in the New World.



Biology of the Deer

  • Prefer areas with a mixture of fields and woods.
  • Females usually give birth to twins.
  • Mating occurs in late fall.
  • Males do not assist in rearing young.
  • Deer eat a wide variety of plants, including acorns.

Deer SignDeer tracks.

  • Tracks--note the two-lobed hoof.
  • Sightings--deer are frequently noticable at dusk and dawn.
  • Buck rubs--small trees damaged by male deer scraping their antlers.
  • Deer browse--torn character (not clean cut) of branches up to 6 ft high.

Damage Caused by Deerbuck rub to a small tree

  • Deer can eat 2.5 pounds of food a day during the summer. Because they tend to bite and walk, bite and walk, they can damage much more than they actually consume. Just ask any corn farmer.
  • Buck rubs--
  • Deer-vehicle collisions. According to the Insurance Institute (2008) 1.2 million animal-vehicle collisions occur annually. The vast majority are deer.



Solutions to Deer DamagePolytape electrified fencing. Photo by Dallas Virchow


Habitat Modification

  • Fencing-excluding deer with high or electrified fences; Description: Polytape electrified fencing for deer. Photo by Dallas Virchow.
  • Change plantings: choose plants that are lower on the deer's preference list. Visit  Deer Resistant Plants
  • .
  • Fence panels to exclude deer from hay.
  • Protect tree growth by using Vexar and Tubex tree shelters, which are more expensive, but also will be much more effective. See our vendors. Additional information can be found in the publications section below.

Repellents for DeerDeer away and Tree Guard deer repellents


Trapping Deer

  • Typically used by researchers
  • Can be useful in areas where hunting is not allowed

Shooting Deer

Shooting can be a very effective (both in reduction of numbers and low cost) method for controlling deer populations.

  • Shotgun/Rifle.  Traditional hunting season or "special season" using volunteers who have proper permits. Sharpshooters are typically paid.
  • Bow hunting. Particularly useful in more urbanized areas where firearms are inadavisable.

Toxicants/Fumigants for Deer

None are available.

Fertility Control for Deer

Lonestar tick on finger

Researchers have developed products to prevent conception in deer. However, this technique is very expensive and often only applicable in areas which are geographically isolated, such as islands, or fenced areas.

Safety & Diseases of Deer

  • Deer have been implicated in carrying ticks that cause Lyme disease. Note the image to the right. It is a lonestar nymph on someone's finger. (Photo by Daniel Gilrein of Cornell University). If nothing else, this image should convince everyone of the need to protect themselves as ticks can be quite small and difficult to feel and see!

deer killed by car. Photo by Kevin Clark

  • Deer cause millions of dollars of damage to motor vehicles every year, including human deaths. Deer Strike Description: shows deer soon after collision with vehicle Photo Credits: Kevin Clark 
  • Rabies: although rare, deer have been known to contract the disease. One was found in Stamford, CT in the Summer of 2005. Source--Connecticut Wildlife Sept/Oct. 2006. p. 17.

These links are comprised of pages dedicated to providing more information on the biology and control of deer. Before initiating any deer control measures be sure to check with appropriate federal and state agencies. Links to those agencies can be found in the navigation bar above. 



University Publications

Managing Deer Damage in Nebraska--Managing Deer Damage in NebraskaUniv. of Nebraska-Lincoln

Control of Deer Damage in Tree Plantations--Ohio State Univ. 

Control of Deer Damage to Crops (Link Broken as of 9/13/04)

Controlling Deer in Nurseries & Landscapes--Auburn Univ.

Controlling Deer in Ornamentals & Gardens--Oklahoma State Univ. PDF

Deer & Rabbit Resistant Plants--Univ. of Arizona PDF

Deer and Agriculture in West Virginia--West Virginia Univ. PDF

Deer Crash Information Clearinghouse

Deer Damage Control Options--Kansas State Univ. PDF

Deer Damage Home Study Course--University of Connecticut 

Deer-Resistant Ornamental Plants--Montana State Univ. 

Electric Fencing to Control Deer & Elk--Montana State Univ.

Fundamentals of Deer Management--University of West Virginia PDF

Hi Tensile Fence Do's and Don'ts--West Virginia Univ. PDF

Identification of Deer Damage--Identification of Deer Damage West Virginia University

Managing White-tailed Deer--Managing White-tailed deer Iowa State University

Minimizing Deer Damage to Residential Plantings 

Preventing and Controlling Deer Damage--Ohio State

Preventing Deer Damage--University of Massachusetts

Protecting Trees from Deer--Protecting Trees from Deer damage.Oregon State Univ.

Resistance of Ornamentals to Deer Damage--Resisance of Ornamentals to Deer Damage University of Maryland

Slant Fence Design Against Deer--Virginia State University

White-tailed Deer Management--University of Kentucky

Winter Bulbs, Pruning & Deer Control--Washington State Univ. 




Deer Damage Management Workshop 

The Intenet Center has run a variety of wildlife damage management workshops, including one on Deer Damage Management (August, 2009). If you or your organization would like to have training, please contact us.


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