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Urban Deer Populations

Eight deer pose for Gary Fewless near Baird Creek

Wisconsin has a white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) population estimated by the DNR to be about 1.6 million. Urban populations of white-tailed deer populations have grown in Wisconsin. Urban deer are residents that are born and live their entire lives in the city or suburban environment. Hunting is usually prohibited within city limits and deer can find protection and food in parks and natural areas, as well as golf courses, and people's yards.

Some plants, like trillium and hostas, decline when deer populations reach 20-25 per square mile. These plants are selectively sought out by deer. Cedars, oaks, and Canada yew, are trees and shrubs that are also favored food types of deer. At populations above 20 animals per square mile, deer can do serious damage to trees and plants, particularly in gardens and orchards.

As the number of urban deer increases the number of deer related auto accidents increase as well. The number of deer related accidents in Wisconsin more than doubled last year to over 40,000, although over 90% of those occurred in rural areas. Over 850 deer related accidents occurred in Brown county.

Urban deer management can be difficult. Capture and relocation is can be expensive ($400/deer) and can result in as much as 60% mortality. There are issues in where to relocate deer if rural populations are also high. Sterilization can be effective but does not immediately decrease the population of adult deer which can survive 9 to 12 years in the absence of predators.

Concerns over the size of Green Bay's urban deer population has resulted in the opening of a special bow hunt on the city's east side. The hunt will continue until April 30th 2003. The city hopes that 200 deer will be harvested by bowhunters and if necessary by sharpshooters that will be paid through city funds and a DNR grant.

For more information about Urban deer populations and the deer hunt

see this 30 January 2003 article from the Green Bay Press Gazette


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Last updated on December 18, 2014