30 Interesting Facts about Whitetail Deer

1. Whitetail deer are native to the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America as far south as Peru and Bolivia.

2. Whitetails have also been introduced to New Zealand, Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Lesser Antilles, and some countries in Europe, such as Finland, the Czech Republic, and Serbia.

3. It is the most widely distributed wild ungulate in North and South America.

4. The westernmost population of the species, known as the Columbian white-tailed deer it is native to western Oregon and southwestern Washington. Today its numbers have been considerably reduced, and it is classified as near-threatened.

5. 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 species. The current population of some 30,000 deer originated from four animals provided by Finnish Americans from Minnesota.

[nextpage]

6. Some taxonomists have attempted to separate white-tailed deer into a host of subspecies, based largely in morphological differences. Genetic studies, however, suggest fewer subspecies within the animal’s range, as compared to the 30 to 40 subspecies that some scientists described in the last
century.

7. 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.

8. 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 overhunting in many parts and a lack of protection. Some areas no longer carry deer, so it is difficult to assess the genetic difference of these animals.

9. The white-tailed deer is highly variable in size, generally following Bergmann’s rule that the average size is larger farther away from the Equator. North American male deer (also known as a buck) usually weigh 100 lbs, but in rare cases, bucks in excess of 275 lbs have been recorded. The female (doe) in North America usually weighs from 88 to 198 lb.

10. In 1926, Carl J. Lenander, Jr. took a white-tailed buck near Tofte, MN, that weighed 403 lb after it was field-dressed (internal organs removed) and was estimated at 511 lb when alive.

[nextpage]

11. White-tailed deer from the tropics and the Florida Keys are markedly smaller-bodied than temperate populations, averaging 77 to 110 lb, with an occasional adult female as small as 25 kg (55 lb).

12. White-tailed deer from the Andes are larger than other tropical deer of this species and have thick, slightly woolly looking fur.

13. About one in 10,000 females also have antlers, although this is usually associated with freemartinism.

14. 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 eat a variety of different foods, digesting it at a later time in a safe area of cover.

15. Wolves, cougars, American alligators, jaguars (in the tropics), and humans are the most effective natural predators of white-tailed deer.

[nextpage]

16. Bobcats, Canada lynx, bears, wolverines, and packs of coyotes usually prey mainly on fawns.

17. Records exist of American crows attempting to prey on white-tailed deer fawns by pecking around their face and eyes, though no accounts of success are given.

18. The deer have been recorded at speeds of 47 mi per hour; this ranks them among the fastest of all cervids, alongside the Eurasian roe deer. They can also jump 8.9 ft high and up to 33 ft in length.

19. Females enter estrus in the autumn, normally in late October or early November, triggered mainly by the declining photoperiod.

20. Sexual maturation of females depends on population density, as well as availability of food. Some does may be as young as six months when they reach sexual maturity, but the average age of maturity is 18 months.

[nextpage]

21. Females give birth to one to three spotted young, known as fawns, in mid- to late spring, generally in May or June.

22. Fawns lose their spots during the first summer and weigh from 44 to 77 lb by the first winter.

23. Fawns are usually 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

24. White-tailed deer possess many glands that allow them to produce scents, some of which are so potent they can be detected by the human nose. Four major glands are the preorbital, forehead, tarsal, and metatarsal glands.

25. In 1930, the U.S. population was thought to number about 300,000. After an outcry by hunters and other conservation ecologists, commercial exploitation of deer became illegal and conservation programs along with regulated hunting were introduced. In 2005, estimates put the deer population in the United States at around 30 million.

[nextpage]

26. In the United States, automobile collisions increased from 200,000 in 1980 to 500,000 in 1991.By 2009, the insurance industry estimated 2.4 million deer–vehicle collisions had occurred over the past two years, estimating damage cost to be over 7 billion dollars and 300 human deaths.

27. The Whitetail Deer 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.

28. It is the national animal of Honduras and Costa Rica and the provincial animal of Canadian Saskatchewan and Finnish Pirkanmaa.

29. 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.

30. Deer have dichromatic (two-color) vision with blue and yellow primaries; humans normally have trichromatic vision. Thus, deer poorly distinguish the oranges and reds that stand out so well to humans.