U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service



Scott R. Craven, Extension Wildlife Specialist, Department of Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706
Scott E. Hygnstrom, Extension Wildlife Damage Specialist, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife, University of Nebraska - Lincoln, 68583

Document Type Article


Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are probably the most widely distributed and best-recognized large mammals in North America. Deer are even-toed ungulates of the family Cervidae. The white-tailed deer is found in every state in the United States except perhaps Alaska and Utah. Deer are creatures of the forest edge rather than the dense, old-growth forest. Browse (leaves, stems, and buds of woody plants) is generally available all year and is a staple food for deer. Breeding occurs from October to January depending on latitude. Deer damage a wide variety of row crops, forage crops, vegetables, fruit trees, nursery stock, and ornamentals, as well as stacked hay. Deer are protected year-round in all states and provinces, with the exception of legal harvest during appropriate big-game hunting seasons. Where deer are abundant or crops are particularly valuable, fencing may be the only way to effectively minimize deer damage.