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Article:White-tailed deer
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whitetails are mammals.
| name = White-tailed Deer
The white-tailed deer is tan or brown in the summer and grayish brown in winter. It has white on its throat, around its eyes and nose, on its stomach and on the underside of its tail. The male has antlers. Males weigh between 150 and 300 pounds and females weigh between 90 and 200 pounds.
| status = LC
| status_system=iucn3.1
| status_ref = <ref name=iucn>{{IUCN2008|assessors=Gallina, S. & Lopez Arevalo, H.|year=2008|id=42394|title=Odocoileus virginianus|downloaded=8 April 2009}} Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern.</ref>
| image = White-tailed_deer.jpg
| image_width =
| image_caption = Male (buck or stag)
| image2 = Whitetail doe.jpg
| image2_width =
| image2_caption = Female (doe)
| regnum = [[Animal]]ia
| phylum = [[Chordata]]
| classis = [[Mammal]]ia
| ordo = [[Artiodactyla]]
| familia = [[Cervidae]]
| subfamilia = [[Capreolinae]]
| genus = ''[[Odocoileus]]''
| species = '''''O. virginianus'''''
| binomial = ''Odocoileus virginianus''
| binomial_authority = [[Eberhard August Wilhelm von Zimmermann|Zimmermann]], 1780
| subdivision_ranks = [[Subspecies]]
| subdivision = 38, see [[#Subspecies|text]]
| range_map = Odocoileus virginianus map.svg
| range_map_caption = White-tailed Deer range map
The '''white-tailed deer''' (''Odocoileus virginianus''), also known as the '''Virginia deer''' or simply as the '''whitetail''', is a medium-sized [[deer]] native to the [[United States]] (all but five of the states), [[Canada]], [[Mexico]], [[Central America]], and [[South America]] as far south as [[Peru]]. It has also been introduced to [[New Zealand]] and some countries in Europe, such as [[Finland]], [[Czech Republic]], and [[Serbia]].
The white-tailed deer can be found in southern Canada and most of the United States, except for the Southwest, Alaska and Hawaii.
The [[species]] is most common east of the [[Rocky Mountains]], and is absent from much of the [[western United States]], including [[Nevada]], [[Utah]], [[California]], [[Hawaii]], and [[Alaska]] (though its close relatives, the [[mule deer]] and [[black-tailed deer]] ''Odocoileus hemionus'', can be found there). It does, however, survive in [[aspen parkland]]s and deciduous river bottomlands within the central and northern [[Great Plains]], and in mixed [[deciduous]] [[riparian]] corridors, river valley bottomlands, and lower foothills of the northern [[Rocky Mountain]] regions from [[South Dakota]] and [[Wyoming]] to southeastern [[British Columbia]], including the [[Montana Valley and Foothill grasslands]].
A deer's home range is usually less the a square mile. Deer collect in family groups of a mother and her fawns. When a doe has no fawns, she is usually solitary. Male bucks may live in groups consisting of three or four individuals, except in mating season, when they are solitary.
The conversion of land adjacent to the northern [[Rocky Mountains|Rockies]] into agriculture use and partial clear-cutting of [[coniferous tree]]s (resulting in widespread deciduous vegetation) has been favorable to the white-tailed deer and has pushed its distribution to as far north as [[Prince George, British Columbia]]. Populations of deer around the [[Great Lakes]] have also expanded their range northwards, due to conversion of land to agricultural uses favoring more deciduous vegetation, and local [[caribou]] and [[moose]] populations. The westernmost population of the species, known as the [[Columbian white-tailed deer]], once was widespread in the mixed forests along the [[Willamette River|Willamette]] and [[Cowlitz River]] valleys of western [[Oregon]] and southwestern [[Washington (U.S. state)|Washington]], but today its numbers have been considerably reduced, and it is classified as near-threatened. The white-tailed deer is well-suited for its environment.
[[File:OdocoileusVirginianus2007-07-28fawn.JPG|thumb|left|Fawn waving its white tail]]
The white-tailed deer lives in wooded areas. In some areas, deer overpopulation is a problem. Gray wolves and mountain lions used to be predators of the white-tailed deer and helped keep their population under control. But because of hunting and human development, there are not very many wolves and mountain lions left in some parts of North America.
{{nowrap|Until recently,}} some [[Taxonomy|taxonomists]] have attempted to separate white-tailed deer into a host of [[subspecies]], based largely in [[Comparative anatomy|morphological]] differences. Genetic studies,{{Clarify|date=July 2010}} however, suggest that there are fewer subspecies within the animal's range, as compared to the 30 to 40 subspecies that some scientists described in the last century. The [[Key Deer|Florida Key deer]], ''O. virginianus clavium'', and the [[Columbian white-tailed deer]], ''O. virginianus leucurus'', are both listed as endangered under the U.S. ''[[Endangered Species Act]]''. In the United States, the Virginia white-tail, ''O. virginianus virginianus'', is among the most widespread subspecies. The white-tailed deer species has tremendous genetic variation and is adaptable to several environments. Several local deer populations, especially in the southern states, are descended from white-tailed deer transplanted from various localities east of the [[Continental Divide]]. Some of these deer may have been from as far north as the [[Great Lakes]] region to as far west as Texas, yet are also quite at home in the [[Appalachian]] and [[Piedmont (United States)|Piedmont]] regions of the south. These deer over time have intermixed with the local indigenous deer (''virginianus'' and/or ''macrourus'') populations.
[[File:Quivira-Whitetail-Buck.jpg|thumb|Male white-tail in Kansas]]
Central and South America have a complex number of white-tailed deer subspecies that range from southern Mexico as far south as Peru. This list of subspecies of deer is more exhaustive than the list of North American subspecies, and the number of subspecies is also questionable. However, the white-tailed deer populations in these areas are difficult to study, due to over-hunting many parts and lack of protection. Some areas no longer carry deer, so it is difficult to assess the genetic difference of these animals.
Sometimes a bobcat or a coyote will kill a young deer, but people and dogs are now the deer's main predator. Because there are not many natural predators, deer populations can sometimes grow too large for their environment and deer can starve to death. In rural areas, hunters help control deer populations, but in suburban and urban areas hunting is often not allowed and deer populations can grow out of control.
Other things can change deer populations. Disease and parasites like lice, mites and roundworms can weaken or kill deer. Young deer and old deer often get sick and die, especially in the winter. Winter is a dangerous time for deer. Their long narrow legs and pointed hooves make it hard for them to move around in the snow and ice and it is easier for predators like dogs to catch them.
Deer and people are living closer to each other because of human development and growth in deer and human populations. Because humans and deer often share a habitat, there can be problems for both of them. When a deer's habitat becomes smaller because of human development, deer will often eat food from gardens. Deer need to cross roads to look for food and water and are sometimes struck by cars. People can also catch a sickness called Lyme Disease from the deer tick.
[[File:White-tailed Deer, female, Costa Rica.jpg|thumb|right|''O. v. truei'', female, [[Costa Rica]]]]
Some subspecies names, ordered alphabetically except first entry:<ref>[ White-tailed deer], Mammals Species of the World. 3rd. ed.</ref><ref>[ Cervidae], Deer's Life</ref>
The white-tailed deer is an herbivore or plant eater. It follows well-used trails to its feeding areas. It feeds in the early morning hours and in the late afternoon. A deer's diet changes depending on its habitat and the season. It eats green plants in the spring and summer. In the fall, it eats corn, acorns and other nuts. In the winter, it eats the buds and twigs of woody plants.
*''O. v. virginianus'' – [[Virginia]] Whitetailed deer or Southern white-tailed deer
*''O. v. acapulcensis'' – Acapulco white-tailed deer (southern [[Mexico]])
*''O. v. borealis'' – Northern (woodland) white-tailed deer (the largest and darkest white-tailed deer)
*''O. v. cariacou'' – ([[French Guiana]] and north [[Brazil]])
*''O. v. carminis'' – Carmen Mountains Jorge deer
*''O. v. chiriquensis'' – Chiriqui white-tailed deer ([[Panama]])
*''[[Odocoileus virginianus clavium|O. v. clavium]]'' – [[Key Deer]] or Florida Keys white-tailed deer found ([[Florida Keys]])
*''O. v. couesi'' – [[Elliott Coues|Coues]] white-tailed deer, [[Arizona]] white-tailed deer, or fantail deer
*''O. v. curassavicus'' – ([[Curaçao]])
*''O. v. dacotensis'' – [[The Dakotas|Dakota]] white-tailed deer or Northern plains white-tailed deer (most northerly distribution, rivals the Northern white-tailed deer in size)
*''O. v. goudotii'' – ([[Colombia]] (Andes) and west [[Venezuela]])
*''O. v. gymnotis'' – [[South America]]n white-tailed deer (northern half of [[Venezuela]], including Venezuela's [[Llanos]] Region)
*''[[Odocoileus virginianus hiltonensis|O. v. hiltonensis]]'' – [[Hilton Head White-Tailed deer|Hilton Head Island white-tailed deer]]
*''[[Odocoileus virginianus leucurus|O. v. leucurus]]'' – [[Columbian white-tailed deer]] ([[Oregon]] and western coastal area)
*''O. v. macrourus'' – [[Kansas]] white-tailed deer
*''O. v. margaritae'' – ([[Margarita Island]])
*''O. v. mcilhennyi'' – [[Avery Island, Louisiana|Avery Island]] white-tailed deer
*''O. v. mexicanus'' – Mexican white-tailed deer (central Mexico)
*''O. v. miquihuanensis'' – Miquihuan white-tailed deer (central Mexico)
*''O. v. nelsoni'' – Chiapas white-tailed deer (southern Mexico and [[Guatemala]])
*''O. v. nemoralis'' – (Central America, round the Gulf of Mexico to [[Surinam]] further restricted to from [[Honduras]] to Panama)
*''O. v. nigribarbis'' – Blackbeard Island white-tailed deer
*''O. v. oaxacensis'' – Oaxaca white-tailed deer (southern Mexico)
*''O. v. ochrourus'' – (Tawny) Northwest white-tailed deer or Northern Rocky Mountains white-tailed deer
*''O. v. osceola'' – [[Florida]] coastal white-tailed deer
*''O. v. peruvianus'' – South American white-tailed deer or [[Andean]] white-tailed deer (most southerly distribution in [[Peru]] and possibly, [[Bolivia]])
*''O. v. rothschildi'' – Coiba Island white-tailed deer
*''O. v. seminolus'' – [[Florida]] white-tailed deer
*''O. v. sinaloae'' – Sinaloa white-tailed deer (mid-western Mexico)
*''O. v. taurinsulae'' – Bulls Island white-tailed deer
*''O. v. texanus'' – [[Texas]] white-tailed deer
*''O. v. truei'' – [[Central America]]n white-tailed deer ([[Costa Rica]], [[Nicaragua]] and adjacent states)
*''O. v. thomasi'' – Mexican Lowland white-tailed deer
*''O. v. toltecus'' – Rain Forest white-tailed deer (southern Mexico)
*''O. v. tropicalis'' – (western [[Colombia]])
*''O. v. ustus'' – ([[Ecuador]])
*''O. v. venatorius'' – Hunting Island white-tailed deer
*''O. v. veraecrucis'' – Northern Vera Cruz white-tailed deer
*''O. v. yucatanensis'' – Yucatán white-tailed deer
The white-tailed deer is a ruminant. Its stomach has four chambers for digesting food. In the first two chambers, the rumen and the reticulum, food is mixed with bile to form the cud. The cud is regurgitated and re-chewed and swallowed. It passes through the rumen to the omasum where water is removed. Finally, the food enters the last chamber, the abomasum, where it is sent on to the small intestine where the nutrients in the food are absorbed. This digestive system lets the white-tailed deer eat foods like woody plants that other animals can't digest! If deer have enough food, water and shelter, their population can grow very quickly. Cows, bison, bighorn sheep, goats, llamas, camels and giraffes are also ruminants.
[[File:White-tailed deer, tail up.jpg|thumb|left|Female with tail in alarm posture]]
Life Cycle
The deer's coat is a reddish-brown in the spring and summer and turns to a grey-brown throughout the fall and winter. The deer can be recognized by the characteristic white underside to its tail, which it shows as a signal of alarm by raising the tail during escape. There is a population of white-tailed deer in the state of New York that is entirely white (except for areas like their noses and toes)&mdash;not [[albinism|albino]]&mdash;in color. The former [[Seneca Army Depot]] in [[Romulus, New York|Romulus]], [[New York]], has the largest known concentration of [[Seneca White Deer|white deer]]. Strong conservation efforts have allowed white deer to thrive within the confines of the depot.
White-tailed deer mate in November in the northern parts of their range and in January or February in the southern parts of their range. The female has one to three fawns after about six months after mating. Fawns are reddish-brown at birth with white spots that help camouflage them. They can walk at birth and forage for food a couple of days later. They are weaned at about six weeks.
===Size and weight===
The mother leaves her fawns well-hidden for hours at a time while she feeds. If she has more than one fawn, she hides them in separate places. While they are waiting for their mother to return, the fawns lay on the ground with their heads and necks stretched out flat on the ground. This makes it harder for predators to find them. Female fawns may stay with their mother for two years, males usually leave after a year.
The white-tailed deer is very variable in size, generally following [[Bergmann's rule]] that the average size is larger further away from the Equator. North American male deer (also known as a ''buck or stag'') usually weighs {{convert|60|to|130|kg|lb|abbr=on}} but, in rare cases, bucks in excess of {{convert|159|kg|lb|abbr=on}} have been recorded. In 1926, Carl J. Lenander, Jr. took a white-tailed buck near Tofte, MN, that weighed {{convert|183|kg|lb|abbr=on}} after it was field-dressed (internal organs removed) and was estimated at {{convert|232|kg|lb|abbr=on}} when alive.<ref>{{cite web|url= |title=The Outdoor Life Book of World Records |publisher=Outdoor Life |date= |accessdate=2011-02-20}}</ref> The female (''doe'') in North America usually weighs from {{convert|40|to|90|kg|lb|abbr=on}}. White-tailed deer from the tropics and the [[Florida Keys]] are markedly smaller-bodied than temperate populations, averaging {{convert|35|to|50|kg|lb|abbr=on}}, with an occasional adult female as small as {{convert|25.5|kg|lb|abbr=on}}.<ref>{{cite web|url= |title=White-tailed deer and red brocket deer of Costa Rican Fauna | |date= |accessdate=2011-02-20}}</ref> White-tailed deer from the [[Andes]] are larger than other tropical deer of this species and have thick, slightly woolly-looking fur. Length ranges from {{convert|95|to|220|cm|in|abbr=on}}, including a tail of {{convert|10|to|36.5|cm|in|abbr=on}}, and the shoulder height is {{convert|53|to|120|cm|in|abbr=on}}.<ref name="">{{cite web|url= |title=ADW: Odocoileus virginianus: Information | |date=2011-02-13 |accessdate=2011-02-20}}</ref><ref>Boitani, Luigi, ''Simon & Schuster's Guide to Mammals''. Simon & Schuster/Touchstone Books (1984), ISBN 978-0671428051</ref> Including all races, the average summer weight of adult males is {{convert|68|kg|lb|abbr=on}} and is {{convert|45.3|kg|lb|abbr=on}} in adult females.<ref>[] (2011).</ref>
Deer have [[Dichromacy#Animals_that_are_dichromats|dichromatic]] (two-color) vision<ref>[ VerCauteren, Kurt C. and Michael J. Pipas. 2003. A review of color vision in white-tailed deer. Wildlife Society Bulletin 2003, 31(3):684-691.]</ref>; humans have trichromatic vision. So what deer do not see are the oranges and reds that stand out so well to people.<ref>Deer colorblind to orange, but if you glow … February 23, 2009 Contact: Wendy B. FWC</ref>
[[File:Wtdfishwild.jpg|thumb|right|Male white-tailed deer]]
When a white-tailed deer is alarmed, it may stomp its hooves and snort to warn other deer. It may also "flag" or raise its tail and show its white underside. When a mother deer is running, this white underside can help her fawns follow her.
Males re-grow their antlers every year. About 1 in 10,000 females also have antlers, although this is usually associated with hermaphroditism.<ref>Wislocki G.B. 1954 Antlers in Female Deer, with a Report of Three Cases in Odocoileus. Journal of Mammalogy 35(4):486-495.</ref> Bucks without branching antlers are often termed "Spikehorn", "spiked bucks" or "spike bucks". The spikes can be quite long or very short. Length and branching of antlers is determined by nutrition, age, and genetics. Healthy deer in some areas that are well fed can have eight-point branching antlers as yearlings (one and a half years old).<ref>{{cite web|url=|title=Understanding Spike Buck Harvest|publisher=Texas Parks and Wildlife Department|accessdate=2011-02-20}}</ref> The number of points, the length or thickness of the antlers are a general indication of age but cannot be relied upon for positive aging. A better indication of age is the length of the snout and the color of the coat, with older deer tending to have longer snouts and grayer coats. Some say that deer that have spiked antlers should be culled from the population to produce larger branching antler genetics (antler size does not indicate overall health), and some bucks' antlers never will be wall trophies. Where antler growth nutritional needs are met (good mineral sources, i.e., calcium) and good genetics combine it can produce wall trophies in some of their range.<ref>{{cite web|url=|title=The Management of Spike Bucks in a White-Tailed Deer Population|publisher=Texas Parks and Wildlife Department|accessdate=2011-02-20}}</ref> Spiked bucks are different from "button bucks" or "nubbin' bucks", that are male fawns and are generally about six to nine months of age during their first winter. They have skin covered nobs on their heads. They can have bony protrusions up to a half inch in length, but that is very rare, and they are not the same as spikes.
[[File:AugustBucks2011.jpg|thumb|left|White-tailed bucks with antlers still in velvet, August 2011]] Antlers begin to grow in late spring, covered with a highly vascularised tissue known as velvet. Bucks either have a typical or non-typical antler arrangement. Typical antlers are symmetrical and the points grow straight up off the main beam. Non-typical antlers are asymmetrical and the points may project at any angle from the main beam. These descriptions are not the only limitations for typical and non-typical antler arrangement. The [[Boone and Crockett Club|Boone and Crockett]] or Pope & Young scoring systems also define relative degrees of typicality and atypicality by procedures to measure what proportion of the antlers are asymmetrical. Therefore, bucks with only slight asymmetry will often be scored as "typical". A buck's inside spread can be anywhere from 3&ndash;25&nbsp;in (8&ndash;64&nbsp;cm). Bucks shed their antlers when all females have been bred, from late December to February.
White-tailed deer are very good runners. They can run at speeds of up to 30 mile an hour. They are also good leapers and swimmers.
White-tailed deer are generalists and can adapt to a wide variety of [[habitat (ecology)|habitats]].<ref>Christian Alejandro Delfin Alfonso, "Comparison of geographic distribution models of white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus (Zimmermann, 1780) subspecies in Mexico: biological and management implications". ''Therya'' (2010) 1(1):41-68</ref> The largest deer occur in the temperate regions of Canada and United States. The Northern white-tailed deer (''borealis''), Dakota white-tailed deer (''dacotensis''), and Northwest white-tailed deer (''ochrourus'') are some of the largest animals, with large antlers. The smallest deer occur in the [[Florida Keys]].
Although most often thought of as forest animals depending on relatively small openings and edges, white-tailed deer can equally adapt themselves to life in more open prairie, savanna woodlands, and sage communities as in the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico, These savanna-adapted deer have relatively large antlers in proportion to their body size and large tails. Also, there is a noticeable difference in size between male and female deer of the savannas. The [[Texas]] white-tailed deer (''texanus''), of the prairies and oak savannas of Texas and parts of Mexico, are the largest savanna-adapted deer in the Southwest, with impressive antlers that might rival deer found in Canada and the northern United States. There are also populations of [[Arizona]] (''couesi'') and Carmen Mountains (''carminis'') white-tailed deer that inhabit montane mixed oak and pine woodland communities.<ref>Ffolliott, P. F. and Gallina, S. (eds). 1981. "Deer biology, habitat requirements and Management in Western North America". ''Instituto de Ecología'', A. C., México, D.F</ref> The Arizona and Carmen Mountains deer are smaller but may also have impressive antlers, considering their size. The white-tailed deer of the [[Llanos]] region of Colombia and Venezuela (''apurensis'' and ''gymnotis'') have antler dimensions that are similar to the Arizona white-tailed deer.
Image Credits: unless otherwise noted
[[File:Whitetaildeer.jpg|thumb|left|250px|White-tailed deer during late winter]]
In western regions of the United States and Canada, the white-tailed deer range overlaps with those of the [[black-tailed deer]] and [[mule deer]]. White-tail incursions in the [[Trans-Pecos]] region of Texas has resulted in some hybrids. In the extreme north of the range, their habitat is also used by [[moose]] in some areas. White-tailed deer may occur in areas that are also exploited by [[elk]] (wapiti) such as in mixed deciduous river valley bottomlands and formerly in the mixed deciduous forest of Eastern United States. In places such as [[Glacier National Park (U.S.)|Glacier National Park]] in [[Montana]] and several national parks in the Columbian Mountains ([[Mount Revelstoke National Park]]) and Canadian Rocky Mountains as well as starting to appear in the Yukon Territory ( Kotaneelee )(e.g., [[Yoho National Park]] and [[Kootenay National Park]]), white-tailed deer are shy and more reclusive than the coexisting mule deer, elk, and moose.
Central American white-tailed deer prefer [[tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests]], seasonal mixed deciduous forests, savanna, and adjacent wetland habitats over dense [[tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests]]. South American subspecies of white-tailed deer live in two types of environments. The first type, similar to the Central American deer, consists of savannas, dry deciduous forests, and riparian corridors that cover much of [[Venezuela]] and eastern [[Colombia]].<ref>Brokx, P. A. 1984. "White-tailed deer of South America". In: L.K. Halls (ed.), ''Ecology and Management of the White-Tailed Deer'', pp. 525-546. Stackpole Company, Harrisburg, PA.</ref> The other type is the higher elevation mountain grassland/mixed forest ecozones in the [[Andes Mountains]], from Venezuela to [[Peru]]. The Andean white-tailed deer seem to retain gray coats due to the colder weather at high altitudes, whereas the lowland savanna forms retain the reddish brown coats. South American white-tailed deer, like those in Central America, also generally avoid dense moist broadleaf forests.
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Since the second half of the nineteenth century, white-tailed deer have been introduced to Europe.<ref name=erhardova71>Erhardová-Kotrlá, B., 1971. The occurrence of ''Fascioloides magna'' (Bassi, 1875) in Czechoslovakia. Academia, Prague, 155 pp.</ref> A population of white-tailed deer in the [[Brdy]] area remains stable today.<ref>{{cite web|url= |title=Biolib-Czech Republic, '&#39;Odocoileus virginianus'&#39; | |date= |accessdate=2011-02-20}}</ref> In 1935, white-tailed deer were introduced to [[Finland]]. The introduction was successful, and the deer have recently begun spreading through northern [[Scandinavia]] and southern [[Karelia]], competing with, and sometimes displacing, native [[fauna]]. The current population of some 30,000 deer originate from four animals provided by [[Finnish American]]s from Minnesota.
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===Diet and predation===
Whitetail deer eat large varieties of food, commonly eating [[legume]]s and foraging on other plants, including [[shoot]]s, leaves, [[cacti]], and [[grass]]es. They also eat acorns, fruit, and corn. Their special stomach allows them to eat some things that humans cannot, such as [[mushroom]]s and Red [[Sumac]] that are poisonous to humans. Their diet varies by season according to availability of food sources. They will also eat hay, grass, white clover, and other food that they can find in a farm yard. Whitetail deer have been known to opportunistically feed on nesting songbirds, field mice, and birds trapped in [[Mist net]]s.<ref>{{cite web|url=|title=White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) Predation on Grassland Songbird Nestlings|publisher=The American Midland Naturalist |year=2000|accessdate=2011-02-20}}</ref>
The white-tailed deer is a ruminant, which means it has a four-chambered stomach. Each chamber has a different and specific function that allows the deer to quickly eat a variety of different food, digesting it at a later time in a safe area of cover. The Whitetail stomach hosts a complex set of bacteria that change as the deer's diet changes through the seasons. If the bacteria necessary for digestion of a particular food (e.g., hay) are absent it will not be digested.<ref>Nelson, Richard. ''Heart and Blood, Living With Deer In America'', Chap. 1</ref>
There are several natural predators of white-tailed deer. [[Canis|wolves]], [[cougar]]s, [[American alligator]]s, and (in the tropics) [[jaguar]]s are the more effective natural predators of adult deer. [[Bobcat]]s, [[Canada Lynx|lynxes]], [[bears]], [[wolverine]]s and packs of [[coyote]]s usually will prey on deer fawns. Bears may sometimes attack adult deer while lynxes, coyotes, wolverines and bobcats are most likely to take adult deer when the ungulates are weakened by winter weather.<ref name=""/> The general extirpation of natural deer predators over the East Coast (only the coyote remains widespread) is believed to be a factor in the overpopulation issues with this species. Many scavengers rely on deer as carrion, including [[New World vulture]]s, [[hawk]]s, [[eagle]]s, [[fox]]es, and [[corvid]]s (the latter three may also rarely prey on deer fawns).
===Forest degradation===
In parts of the eastern United States, some negative effects of high deer densities have been noted, such as forest degradation from overbrowsing by the deer, as well as frequent collisions with cars and trucks ([[#Human interactions|discussed below]]). In northeastern hardwood forests, high-density deer populations affect plant succession, particularly following clear-cuts and patch cuts. In succession without deer, annual herbs and woody plants are followed by commercially-valuable, shade-tolerant oak and maple. The shade-tolerant trees prevent the invasion of less commercial cherry and American beech, which are stronger nutrient competitors but not as shade tolerant. Although deer eat shade-tolerant plants and acorns, this is not the only way deer can shift the balance in favor of nutrient competitors. When deer consume earlier-succession plants, this allows in enough light for nutrient competitors to invade. Since slow growing oaks need several decades to develop root systems sufficient to compete with faster growing species, removal of the canopy prior to that point amplifies the effect of deer on succession. It is even possible that high density deer populations could browse eastern hemlock seedlings out of existence in northern hardwood forests.<ref>{{cite book|last=McShea|first=W.J.|title=The Science of Overabundance: Deer Ecology and Population Management|year=1997|publisher=Smithsonian Institution Press|location=Washington, DC|isbn=1588340627|pages=201–223, 249–279}}</ref> Ecologists have also expressed concern over the facilitative effect high deer populations have on invasions of exotic plant species. In a study of eastern hemlock forests, browsing by white-tailed deer caused populations of three exotic plants to rise faster than in the absence of deer. Seedlings of the three invading species rose exponentially with deer density, while the most common native species fell exponentially with deer density, because deer were preferentially eating the native species. The effects of deer on the invasive and native plants were magnified in cases of canopy disturbance.<ref>{{cite journal|last=Eschtruth|first=E.C.|coauthors=J.J. Battles|title=Acceleration of exotic plant invasion in a forested ecosystem by a generalist herbibvore|journal=Conservation Biology|year=2008|volume=23|pages=388–399}}</ref>
== Behavior ==
[[File:Two Bucks.jpg|thumb|These bucks were pursuing a pair of does across the [[Loxahatchee River]] in Florida&mdash;the does lost them by entering a Mangrove thicket too dense for the bucks' antlers.]]
Males compete for the opportunity of breeding females. Sparring among males determines a [[Dominance (ethology)|dominance hierarchy]].<ref name="Ditchkoff 2001">Ditchkoff, S. S., Lochmiller, Robert L., Masters, Ronald E., Hoofer, Steven R., Van Den Bussche, Ronald A. (2001). "Major-Histocompatibility-Complex-Associated Variation In Secondary Sexual Traits Of White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus Virginianus): Evidence For Good-Genes Advertisement." ''Evolution'' 55(3): 616–625.</ref> Bucks will attempt to copulate with as many females as possible, losing physical condition since they rarely eat or rest during the rut. The general geographical trend is for the rut to be shorter in duration at increased latitude. There are many factors as to how intense the "rutting season" will be. Air temperature is one major factor of this intensity. Any time the temperature rises above {{convert|40|F|C}}, the males will do much less traveling looking for females, or they will be subject to overheating or dehydrating. Another factor for the strength in rutting activity is competition. If there are numerous males in a particular area, then they will compete more for the females. If there are fewer males or more females, then the selection process will not need to be as competitive.
[[File:Fawn-in-grass.jpg|thumb|right|Fawn lying on grass]]
Females enter [[Estrous cycle|estrus]], colloquially called the [[Rut (mammalian reproduction)|''rut'']], in the autumn, normally in late October or early November, triggered mainly by the declining [[Photoperiodism|photoperiod]]. Sexual maturation of females depends on [[Population density#Biological population densities|population density]] as well as availability of food.<ref>{{cite web|title=Forest Foods Deer Eat," Department of Natural Resources website|url=,1607,7-153-10370_12148-61306--,00.html|publisher=Department of Natural Resources - State of Michigan|year=2008|accessdate=2011-02-18}}</ref> Females can mature in their first year,{{Citation needed|date=August 2010}} although this is unusual and would occur only at very low population levels. Most females mature at 1–2 years of age. Most are not able to reproduce until six months after they mature.
Females give birth to 1&ndash;3 spotted young, known as fawns, in mid to late spring, generally in May or June. Fawns lose their spots during the first summer and will weigh from 44 to 77 pounds (20 to 35&nbsp;kg) by the first winter. Male fawns tend to be slightly larger and heavier than females. For the first four weeks, fawns mostly lie still and hide in vegetation while their mothers forage. They are then able to follow their mothers on foraging trips. They are weaned after 8–10 weeks. Males will leave their mothers after a year and females leave after two.
Bucks are generally sexually mature at 1.5 years old and will begin to breed even in populations stacked with older bucks.
White-tailed deer communicate in many different ways using sounds, scent, body language, and marking. All white-tailed deer are capable of producing audible noises, unique to each animal. Fawns release a high-pitched squeal, known as a bleat, to call out to their mothers.<ref name="vocalization">Thomas D. Atkeson, R. Larry Marchinton and Karl V. Miller, (1988). "Vocalizations of White-tailed Deer", ''American Midland Naturalist'', 120(1): 194-200.</ref> A doe makes maternal grunts when searching for her bedded fawns.<ref name="vocalization"/> Grunting produces a low, guttural sound that will attract the attention of any other deer in the area. Both does and bucks snort, a sound that often signals danger. As well as snorting, bucks also grunt at a pitch that gets lower with maturity. Bucks are unique in their grunt-snort-wheeze pattern that often shows aggression and hostility.<ref name="vocalization"/> Another way white-tailed deer communicate is with their white tail. When a white-tail deer is spooked it will raise its tail to warn the other deer in the area that can see it.
White-tailed deer possess many [[gland]]s that allow them to produce scents, some of which are so potent they can be detected by the human nose. Four major glands are the pre-orbital, forehead, tarsal, and metatarsal glands. It was originally thought that secretions from the pre-orbital glands (in front of the eye) were rubbed on tree branches; recent research suggests this is not so. It has been found that scent from the forehead or sudoriferous glands (found on the head, between the antlers and eyes) is used to deposit scent on branches that overhang "scrapes" (areas scraped by the deer's front hooves prior to rub-urination). The tarsal glands are found on the upper inside of the hock (middle joint) on each hind leg. Scent is deposited from these glands when deer walk through and rub against vegetation. These scrapes are used by bucks as a sort of "sign-post" by which bucks know which other bucks are in the area, and to let does know that a buck is regularly passing through the area&mdash;for breeding purposes. The scent from the metatarsal glands, found on the outside of each hind leg, between the ankle and hooves, may be used as an alarm scent. The scent from the Interdigital glands, which are located in between the hooves of each foot, emit a yellow waxy substance with an offensive odor. Deer can be seen stomping their hooves if they sense danger through sight, sound, or smell, this action leaves an excessive amount of odor for the purpose of warning other deer of possible danger.
Throughout the year deer will rub-urinate, a process during which a deer squats while urinating so that urine will run down the insides of the deer's legs, over the tarsal glands, and onto the hair covering these glands. Bucks rub-urinate more frequently during the breeding season.<ref>Karen J. Alexy, Jonathan W. Gassett, David A. Osborn and Karl V. Miller, (2001). "White-Tailed Deer Rubs and Scrapes: Spatial, Temporal and Physical Characteristics and Social Role", Wildlife Society Bulletin, 29(3): 873-878.</ref> Secretions from the tarsal gland mix with the urine and bacteria to produce a strong smelling odor. During the breeding season does release hormones and pheromones that tell bucks that a doe is in heat and able to breed. Bucks also rub trees and shrubs with their antlers and head during the breeding season, possibly transferring scent from the forehead glands to the tree, leaving a scent other deer can detect.<ref name="marking"/>
Sign-post marking (scrapes and rubs) are a very obvious way that white-tailed deer communicate.<ref name="marking">Terry L. Kile and R. Larry Marchinton, (1977). "White-Tailed Deer Rubs and Scrapes: Spatial, Temporal and Physical Characteristics and Social Role", ''American Midland Naturalist'', 97(2): 257-266.</ref> Although bucks do most of the marking, does visit these locations often. To make a rub, a buck will use its antlers to strip the bark off of small diameter trees, helping to mark his territory and polish his antlers. To mark areas they regularly pass through bucks will make scrapes. Often occurring in patterns known as scrape lines, scrapes are areas where a buck has used its front hooves to expose bare earth. They often rub-urinate into these scrapes, which are often found under twigs that have been marked with scent from the forehead glands.
==Human interactions==
[[File:Golden Valley Minnesota deer in snow.jpg|left|thumb|A white-tailed deer in [[Golden Valley, Minnesota]]]]
[[File:white-tailed deer.JPG|thumb|right|Deer spotted in a suburban development outside [[Montpelier, Vermont]]]]
A century ago, commercial exploitation, unregulated [[hunting]] and poor land-use practices, including deforestation severely depressed deer populations in much of their range. For example, by about 1930, the U.S. population was thought to number about 300,000. After an outcry by hunters and other [[conservation biology|conservation ecologists]], commercial exploitation of deer became illegal and conservation programs along with regulated hunting were introduced. Recent estimates put the deer population in the United States at around 30 million. Conservation practices have proved so successful that, in parts of their range, the white-tailed deer populations currently far exceed their carrying capacity and the animal may be considered a [[Nuisance wildlife management|nuisance]]. [[Traffic accidents|Motor vehicle collisions]] with deer are a serious problem in many parts of the animal's range, especially at night and during rutting season, causing injuries and fatalities among both deer and [[human]]s. Vehicular damage can be substantial in some cases.<ref>[ Warning to Motorists: Fall Is Peak Season for Deer-Vehicle Collisions], Insurance Information Institute, October 1, 2009</ref> [[File:243 WSSM Olympic Arms AR15.jpg|thumb|left|White-tailed deer hunted in Accomack, Virginia]]
At high population densities, farmers can suffer economic damage by deer depredation of cash crops, especially in [[maize|corn]] and [[orchard]]s. It has become nearly impossible to grow some crops in some areas unless very burdensome deer-deterring measures are taken. Deer are excellent fence-jumpers, and their fear of motion and sounds meant to scare them away is soon dulled. Deer can prevent successful reforestation following logging, and have impacts on native plants and animals in parks and natural areas.<ref>Côté, SD, TP Rooney, JP Tremblay, C Dussault, and DM Waller. 2004. Ecological impacts of deer overabundance. Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics 35: 113-147.</ref> Deer also cause substantial damage to landscape plants in suburban areas, leading to limited hunting or trapping to relocate or sterilize them.
In the US, the species is the [[state animal]] of [[Nebraska]], [[Arkansas]], [[Illinois]], [[Mississippi]], [[New Hampshire]], [[Ohio]], [[Pennsylvania]], [[Michigan]], and [[South Carolina]] as well as the provincial animal of [[Saskatchewan]]. It is one of the state animals of [[Louisiana]]. The profile of a white-tailed deer buck caps the Vermont coat-of-arms and can be seen in the [[Flag of Vermont]] and in stained glass at the [[Vermont State House]]. It is the national animal of [[Honduras]]. It is also the provincial animal of Finnish [[province]] of [[Pirkanmaa]]. Texas is home to the most white-tailed deer of any [[U.S. state]] or [[Provinces and territories of Canada|Canadian province]], with an estimated population of over four million. Notably high populations of white-tailed deer occur in the [[Edwards Plateau]] of Central Texas. Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Illinois, Wisconsin, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Indiana also boast high deer densities. In many U.S. states and Canadian provinces, hunting for white-tailed deer is deeply ingrained in local [[culture]]s.{{Citation needed|date=September 2009}} In 1884, one of the first hunts of white-tailed deer in Europe was conducted in [[Opočno]] and [[Dobříš]] ([[Brdy|Brdy mountains]] area), in what is now the [[Czech Republic]].
== See also ==
* [[White-tailed Deer Hunting]]
* [[Deer Hunting]]
== References ==
==Further reading==
* {{citation |last =Fulbright |first = Timothy Edward |coauthors=J Alfonso Ortega-S |year =2006 |title =White-tailed deer habitat: ecology and management on rangelands |url = |publisher=Texas A&M University Press |isbn=1585444995 |accessdate = }}
* Geist, Dr. Valerius, (1998). ''[ Deer of the World: Their Evolution, Behavior, and Ecology]'', Stackpole Books, ISBN 0811704963
* Michels, T.R., (2007). ''['The%20Whitetail%20Addicts%20Manual&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=true The Whitetail Addicts Manual]'', Creative Publishing, ISBN 978-1-58923-344-7
* {{citation |last = Zwaschka |first = Michael|coauthor= |year =1999 |title =White Tailed Deer |url = |publisher=Edge Books |isbn=9780736884907 |accessdate = }}
* {{ITIS |id=180699 |taxon=Odocoileus virginianus |accessdate=18 March 2006}}
== External links ==
{{commons|Odocoileus virginianus|White-tailed Deer}}
{{wikispecies|Odocoileus virginianus|White-tailed Deer}}
* [ White-tailed Deer], Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
* [ Video of White-tailed/Coues Deer], Arizona Game & Fish
* [ Natureworks], New Hampshire Public TV
* [ New Zealand Whitetail deer and their distribution]
* [ White-tailed deer], Hinterlands Who's Who
* [ Smithsonian Wild: Odocoileus virginianus]
{{North American Game}}
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