Deer Population Control

To be a conservationist, one of the things you need to do is help to preserve wildlife. This is one of a hunter’s main priorities. This is so important because keeping animals at a stable population keeps our world preserved and in balance. Hunters will hunt animals that are overpopulated to help control the ecosystem. Although they are purposely killing animals for a sport, hunters do not wish to endanger or extinct a species. In the Montana Hunter Education book, it talks about the role of the habitat manager. This person’s job is to record data about a species birth and death rate, habitat conditions, breeding population levels, breeding success rate, and long term projections. With the data that is collected, hunters either keep or change the hunting regulations. (Kalkomey) “Regulations include setting daily and seasonal time limits, bag limits, and legal methods for taking wildlife.”(Kalkomey) Having new regulations will make sure that hunters are keeping a good balance in a species’ population. The most well-known example of population control is the hunting of deer. In the article written by the University of Illinois Extension, it talks about the most effective ways of keeping the deer population stable. “A very important goal of a hunting program on private land should be to harvest the maximum number of adult female deer. Killing male deer accomplishes little to control the deer population.” (Living with White-tailed Deer in Illinois) This article doesn’t explain why hunting female deer rather than male deer would help the population, but I can only assume that it is because it will lower the amount of pregnant female deer.

There have been anti-hunting organizations that have tried to control the population in non-lethal ways. The two ways are sterilization and relocation of deer. Sterilization is a good way of keeping population down but only for a short period of time. (Living with White-tailed Deer in Illinois) This is because not every deer can be sterilized otherwise the specific area of deer will go completely extinct. There also aren’t enough people to sterilize all the deer. “Although it has been demonstrated that ICs can be used to prevent reproduction by individual animals for multiple years, not enough animals can be captured and treated in wild deer populations to have any significant population reduction effect.”(Living with White-tailed Deer in Illinois) Relocation is the second way organizations have tried to use to reduce deer population. This way is highly ineffective because data has shown that 4% of deer die being transported, 25% die within the first two months, and 85% die within the first year of relocation. (Deer: Trap & Relocate) Overall hunting is the most effective way to regulate a species population

Also, Hunters will have regulated hunting to help raise the population of endangered species. In the early 1800’s there approximately 14 million Whitetail Deer United States. By the early 1900’s there we approximately 500,000 Whitetail. Through the work done by hunters and regulation over the past 100 years, there is claimed to be more than 32 million Whitetails. The reason behind such a dramatic drop and rise in population was hunting regulations. It was not entirely illegal to hunt these deer at the time but there were many unwritten laws made by hunters to help the deer repopulate. (VerCauteren) Another species this was done to was the Wood Duck. “The survival and recovery of wood duck populations in North America are renowned wildlife success stories. By the late 1800s to early 1900s, extinction of the wood duck seemed imminent.” (Davis) Although these ducks were hunted regularly in the early 1900’s, the population decreased because of the drastic deforestation. These ducks were then illegal to hunt in April of 1918 and then reopened in 1941. (Davis) These are just some of the very many occurrences in the past century where hunters stopped hunting a specific species to let their population grow to a healthy level.

Another way hunter’s control animal population is by hunting the predator of an endangered species. In Alberta Canada, there has been a growth in the oil/gas industry. The companies that are in charge have started to destroy large amounts of the Boreal Forest and replaced with what are called tar sands. These are large areas that used to be forest but are now pits filled with crude oil mixed with sand, clay, and bitumen. This then caused a large drop in the population of the Woodland Caribou. (Struzik) So because of the deforestation there was not a place for these caribou to survive in which lead to the drastic drop in their population. These elk were a species that was regularly hunted in Canada but now are being protected. The hunters of this province are now turning their attention to wolves, caribou’s natural predator. “Scientists recognize that wolf control is a legitimate means of managing caribou populations that are in trouble,’ said Darcy Whiteside, spokesman for the Alberta Sustainable Resources Department.(Struzik) So hunters are now lowering the population of wolves so there is less to kill the caribou. Lowering the population of the wolves for a short period of time will be key to saving the Woodland Caribou in the long run. (Struzik) Hunting the predator of a certain species is a very effective way for hunters to help repopulate while still enjoying their sport and help conserve a species. 


Davis, Brain. Status of the Wood Duck. n.d. 26 March 2014. <>.

Deer: Trap & Relocate. n.d. 24 March 2014. <>.

Kalkomey, Ed. "Conservation, Wildlife Management, and Identification." Kalkomey, Ed. Today's Wildlife Field Identification Guide. Kalkomey Enterprises, 2011. 102-109.
             Living with White-tailed Deer in Illinois. n.d. 25 March 2014. <>.

Struzik, Ed. Killing Wolves: A Product of. 27 October 2011. 25 march 2014. <>.

VerCauteren, Kert. "The Deer Boom: Discussins on Population Growth." The Deer Boom (2003): 16-17. 24 March 2014. <>.