DeerBeards Home

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Americas Deadliest Big Game Animal

If I were to ask you what you thought America's deadliest big game animal was, what would you say? This animal kills or injures more people every year than any other animal. Would you say the grizzly bear or maybe the mountain lion? You would probably be very surprised when I told you that the white-tailed deer not only causes more human deaths and injuries but also causes more damage and destruction than any other big game animal.

Over 120 people are killed in the United States each year in deer-related car crashes, and hundreds more are injured. This far surpasses the few deaths and injuries caused by mountain lions and grizzly bears.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, average cost of damage to each of the 300,000 vehicles involved in collisions with deer each year is over $600, totaling more than $180 million.

Deer cause enormous damage to farm crops and suburban landscaping as well. Biologists studying declining bird populations, including woodcock, believe there is a link to the consumption of habitat by deer.

Another growing problem caused by deer is Lyme disease and two new diseases, Ehrlichiosis and Babesiosis, all three carried by deer ticks. About 14,000 new cases of Lyme disease alone are reported in the United States annually. These tick bites are not just coming from the deep woods but from people's backyards in their urban neighborhoods.

Sixty-five years ago it would have been laughable to imagine too many deer in North America. There was even concern at that time that they would soon be extinct. Today there are more than 25 million white-tailed deer and 5 million mule deer in the United States, and the populations continue to climb.

The cause of the deer population explosion is multifaceted. Foremost, state conservation departments have for decades been successfully managing deer for hunting by providing the animals with food, cover and protection. Additionally the 65 million people who feed birds in their backyards have also successfully managed deer by unwittingly providing optimum habitat.
Nature has also had a hand in the success. Prior to the 1980s, winter kill was a part of the deer management formula. But the mild winters in the past decade have resulted in very little mortality.

The only effective way to reduce deer populations is to cull them, preferably by hunting. Many conservation departments have dramatically increased their deer permits for both residents and non-residents.

This can help, but more controversial is how to control deer in urban and suburban areas and people's backyards where public hunting is either not permitted or is impractical. Numerous methods of control have been attempted, from trapping to contraceptives, but except for shooting the deer outright, nothing has proven effective.

Urban deer task forces consisting of cross sections of community interests continue to grapple with the problem of what to do with America's deadliest and most destructive big game animal

All Rights Reserved. home | about | ADMIN