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The Influence of Predators on Deer in the Southeast

Personnel author:

In the Southeast, white-tailed deer have multiple predators and individuals sometimes are killed by those predators. However, healthy deer herds can and do coexist in places with abundant predators. Although it is easy to dismiss the role of predators as purely negative when regarding deer management, it is important to remember that predators are a natural and normal part of a healthy, well-managed ecosystem. To assume predators have no beneficial purpose in deer management is to ignore the facts. However, when predator populations become too abundant and affect our deer management goals, an open discussion regarding the appropriate management action is justified. Predator reductions via trapping/shooting, habitat management, and/or changes in deer harvest are all possible options that require careful and calculated review of available facts. The answer is not a landscape without predators. That approach has led to drastic overabundance of deer populations that degrade habitat for many wildlife species. In this document we will discuss the current state of knowledge (i.e. scientific evidence) about predators as related to white-tailed deer in the Southeast, what management options are available, and the effectiveness of those options.


Mark McConnell

Topic Area:
Wildlife Management
Publication Type: