Urban, Suburban Deer Management

Managing Overabundant Deer in Suburban Communities

The call came in on a warm autumn afternoon, and I knew it was going to be a tough day. Several neighbors had seen a male white-tailed deer with some netting tangled in his antlers. This particular community was known to have a fairly large deer population, and often had emotionally charged debates about how to resolve “The Deer Problem.”

It took some time to obtain photographs of the situation, and by the time my colleagues and I arrived on the scene, the deer didn’t look so good. Somehow, he had gotten tangled up in a volleyball net. He was now dragging a tangled mass of net and 3 heavy posts. The net covered his eyes and his mouth, and we weren’t sure he would be able to eat or drink on his own. Our main concern was that the net would unravel and he would cause a car accident.

This is a familiar scene in urban, suburban, and rural communities with overabundant deer populations. Deer survive well living near people, but at some point, too many conflict situations lead to the inevitable discussions about resolving “the deer problem.” Some communities in Texas have just begun to realize they might have a problem, while others are firmly entrenched in a stalemate with the deer and each other in the search for an effective solution. Because suburban deer management in communities can be emotionally charged, and lead to conflict between neighbors, it’s a good idea to get assistance from professional wildlife managers.

Deer Management Workshop

A one day workshop will be offered this May to provide that guidance. Experts from Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Texas Wildlife Association, Texas State University, and Texas A&M University will host an interactive and engaging conference entitled “Addressing Conflict with Deer in Our Communities” that will give residents, communities and municipal leaders the tools, information, and management strategies they need to resolve conflict with deer and about deer.

The workshop will take place on May 29 in San Marcos, and will offer a full day of presentations by experts, audience engagement, and panel discussions. Registration for the wildlife management workshop ends May 8th. The full agenda is available on the conference website, but a few highlights include:

  • Why do deer thrive in our communities?
  • Evaluating your situation and identifying measures for success. How bad is your problem?
  • How to build support for potential solutions
  • Real world case studies: What worked and what hasn’t?
  • Management tools and solutions
  • Regulatory authority versus management responsibility: Whose job is it?

Back to Deer “Management”

When we arrived on the scene, the buck was standing in the corner of a vacant lot, twitching his ears. If we approached him too quickly, we would push him across the street, and chasing a deer through a neighborhood all day is unhealthy for both people and deer. All 3 of us were permitted to physically handle white-tailed deer, so we approached carefully, special equipment at the ready. After a few false starts, and just at the right moment, we made our move. The deer saw through the ruse (and the netting), skirted between us, and gracefully jumped over a 6 foot privacy fence and trotted casually away. All 3 of us rolled our eyes and immediately packed up our fancy equipment.

If the buck could do all that, he didn’t need our help. It turns out, as is often the case, that the problem was never about the deer. It was about the different human opinions about how to manage the deer. We spent the next few days providing recommendations to the community how to prevent this from happening again, and how to resolve the underlying conflict within the community with a proactive, rather than reactive approach. I hope that both this community and your community joins us in San Marcos on May 29th for a great workshop. See the list of presentations, speakers, and registration information for overabundant deer management.

Managing for wildlife and habitat