Deer Population

Currently, the estimated deer population in Georgia is 1.27 million. This may seem small compared to the 10.1 million people living in Georgia, but it does not account for an accurate number of deer in urban areas. Deer living in suburbs and areas not zoned for hunting are hard to monitor due to the fact that most of the data about the deer population is from hunters in more rural areas. Urban neighborhoods also provide safety and food which attract more deer and desensitize them to human activity. This can be dangerous for both the humans and the deer. It’s important to remember that deer are wildlife, with an emphasis on the “wild.”

Once a wildlife species has entered an urban area, others are sure to follow. In the worst case scenarios it is the predators that decide to join their prey. Predators such as coyotes, and in northern Georgia even bears, will wander into areas of high human population posting a threat to both humans and deer. This predatory threat contributes to the 22% decrease in the number of fawns per doe that survive to hunting season, also known as the fawn recruitment rate. This decrease in the fawn population must be balanced by decreasing the number of does that are allowed to be harvested each year. Decreasing the number of does increases the odds of fawns surviving because more fawns have the chance to be born.

Although coyotes can prove useful in maintaining other wildlife populations, too many can be a bad thing. Determining the extent of the coyote population is a job for trail camer
as. These motion detecting camouflaged cameras take pictures when something moves in front of it, and seems to be the most accurate way to estimate the number of any animal that may be present. If there is in fact a coyote infestation a heavy amount of trapping preceding and during fawning will yield the best results. However, the cunning nature of coyotes may prevent their capture with live traps, consequently making hunting the best and most effective option.

coyote-gadnr-wrd-stevekyles

Bears are also a predatory threat to fawns but less to adult deer. While this is a problem primarily in the northern region, it is a very complex issue that may include competition over habitat, clashing with other species, and supplementary predators. However, the exact reasons and circumstances are unclear and call for more research to gather accurate information for addressing this issue.

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10 thoughts on “Deer Population

  1. Steve Wilder

    Deer Population Post – please explain, “This decrease in the fawn population must be balanced by decreasing the number of does that are allowed to be harvested each year. Decreasing the number of does increases the odds of fawns surviving because more fawns have the chance to be born.” It would seem that more does would produce more fawns. I must be missing something. 🙂

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  2. Is 1.27 million deer the DNR’s estimate for 2016? The 2015-24 deer management plan says 1 million deer in the current year (2014, see paragraph two on page IV) and 990,000 in 2012 (Table 1-1 on page 6). The 1.27 number seems very high given these previous DNR estimates and the significant decline in the 2015 deer harvest.

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    1. Kent,

      Current deer population estimates are calculated slightly differently than they were during the development of the 10-year deer management plan, resulting in this discrepancy. The deer population has been relatively stable since that time, so there has not been any substantial increase in the population. The current calculation method was also used for prior years, which brought the 2014 estimate to 1.2 million instead of 1 million. Absolute population estimates are not generally used to make management decisions, but rather to show a general trend in the population over time.

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    1. Georgia’s Deer Management Plan 2015-2024 has some figures showing trends the fawn recruitment rate, which is the number of fawns surviving to the hunting season.
      http://www.georgiawildlife.com/sites/default/files/uploads/wildlife/hunting/pdf/Game_Mgmt/Deer%20Plan%202015-2024%20Final%20Draft%2011-19-14.pdf
      To collect this information, our biologists and technicians collect age structure data from deer processors and WMAs. The ratio of fawns to does is used to develop these harvest recruitment rates.

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  3. Steve Everett

    I am not sure what formula is used to come up with the “estimated population” , but I have hunted deer in middle and northeast ga since I was 16 yrs old, I’m now 55, deer population has been down for the last 5 to 7yrs, at least out in the areas that get hunted, I understand the urban and suburban areas still have a significant population of deer, but that is greatly due to the fact that hunting is severely restricted, or not allowed at all.
    First thing that should happen is the bag limits should be taken out of the hands of legislators and put in the hands of DNR and game biologists who actually know something about the issue! That way all the insurance companies won’t have a say in what happens to our deer population ! If they are so concerned about the costs of auto/deer accidents, let them finance a trapping/relocation program for the deer in populated areas, trap them, sedate them and relocate them to areas out away from people.
    No one has a need for 10 or 12 deer in a season! It would be virtually impossible to eat that much deer meat for a normal family ! And killing a deer for any other reason than to use the meat is simply a waste, and should not be encouraged !
    I would like for future generations to enjoy the time honored traditions involved in deer hunting , but if we continue to allow the insurance companies to have a say in how many deer are harvested,,, our grandkids will only see deer in a zoo, or behind their house in a gated subdivision !

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  4. Jack Baker

    I agree with Mr. Everett. We need to really lower the number of doe taken and step up and open more avenues for taking coyote. Fort Gordon had an average of about 300 Deer taken about 15 years ago and has been on the decline ever since. Three years ago we harvested only 150 deer. I told the Biologist then a quota must be in place. The following year Steve put a quota in place and we saw an increase in last year’s harvest. This year there s a small decline but still over 200 deer have been taken. You might want to talk with FG.

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  5. Steve Everett

    Bottom line is if you are in a county that receives a good amount of hunting pressure, you have been seeing less deer for the last few years, and now you will continue to see less deer thanks to the added doe days for this year and I imagine the next few ! DNR or no one else is proposing a way to curtail the population in the suburbs and populated areas ,, the automobile insurance companies still have influence in regards to our deer harvest limit and regulations, whether anyone will admit it or not ,, auto insurance companies would prefer to hand out money and gifts to legislators and officials to continue to go along with reducing the population instead of coming up with alternative ways to relocate deer from the suburbs and areas where they are not hunted, we will continue to see lower deer numbers out in the majority of the piedmont region , lower deer population combined with the increase in the costs of leases and hunting club dues will continue to result in less and less people getting into deer hunting or continuing to hunt. I have spoken to different clubs that have lost members for the simple reason they will not pay $500 to $1000 a year and see very few deer. DNR needs to take a step back and re-evaluate their approach in my opinion, which is shared by a large portion of hunters in our state, at least by those who are concerned about the future!

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