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Deer are probably the most widely distributed and best-recognized large mammals in America.Deer are even-toed ungulates of the family Cervidae.
Adult white-tailed males are 3â€˛ to 3.5â€˛ tall at the shoulder and typically weigh 125 to 200 lbs. females are generally smaller and lighter than the males. Deer are red-brown during summer and grow brown-grey winter coats each fall. Their most conspicuous feature is their tail, which they raise during flight to expose its white underside. Fawns, deer less than one year old, are typically born weighing four to eight lbs. and have red-brown hair covered with numerous white spots.
White-tailed deer occur almost entirely in the hardwood areas within their general range except for the southeastern section of Texas where the principal vegetation is a mixture of pines and hardwoods or nearly pure stands of pines. In the Chisos Mountains of Texas they occur in the mountains, whereas the mule deer occupies the lower foothills and broken deserts; in most other places this habitat relationship is reversed.
Life Cycle:whitetail deer mate in their second year, although some females occasionally mate as young as seven months. Bucks are polygamous although they may form an attachment and stay with a single doe for several days or even weeks until she reaches oestrus. Does are seasonally polyestrous and usually come into heat in November for a short twenty-four hour period. If a doe is not mated, a second estrus occurs approximately 28 days later. Mating occurs from October to December and gestation is approximately 6 and a half months.
First year of breeding, a female generally has one fawn, but 2 per litter are born in subsequent years. Fawns are able to walk at birth and nibble on vegetation only a few days later.White-tailed females are very protective of their babies. When looking for food, females leave their offspring in a hiding place for about four hours at a time.
While waiting for their mother to return, fawns lay flat on the ground with their necks outstretched, well camouflaged against the forest floor. Fawns begin to follow their mother on her foraging trips once they are about 4 weeks old and are fully ruminant at two months old. White-tailed deer fawns are nursed for 8 to 10 weeks before they are weaned. Young males leave their mother after one year but young females often stay with their mother for two years
Damage:Deer damage a wide variety of row crops, forage crops, vegetables, fruit trees, nursery stock, and ornamentals, as well as stacked hay. In addition to the immediate loss of the crop being damaged, there is often residual damage in the form of future yield reduction of fruit trees or forage crops such as alfalfa.
Ornamental trees or nursery stock may be permanently disfigured by deer browsing. Under high densities deer may severely impact native plant communities and impair regeneration of some forest tree species. Besides vegetative damage, deer/ vehicle collisions pose a serious risk to motorists, and deer have been implicated in the distribution and transmission of Lyme disease.
Controls Measures: Animal reduction in deer populations via sport hunting is an effective way to reduce deer damage. Deer have the potential to double their population about every 2.5 years if no mortality takes place. Buck-only harvests are incapable of reducing or stabilizing deer numbers. Where legally possible, landowners suffering damage should require hunters to harvest sufficient does, as harvesting of females is essential to reduce deer numbers and damage.
Deer damage may be reduced by planting less preferred plant species. Considerable interest also exists in planting adjacent areas with preferred food (diversionary feeding). However, little information is available on the use or success of supplemental plantings.
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