White-tailed Deer
Odocoileus virginianus

credit: Scott Bauer

Ears are smaller and tail is larger and whiter than in the Mule Deer. Males have antlers consisting of smaller vertical tines branching off the single main beam. Year-old male fawns have small “buttons” of antlers. Antlers are shed in December and January and regrown over the summer. Long tail is brown above, white below, and fringed in white on the sides. Coat is reddish brown to bright tan in the summer, duller and grayer in the winter. Fawns are reddish and spotted with white. Males average 20% larger than females and northern populations are larger; the Endangered Dwarf Key Deer (O. v. clavium) from the Florida Keys stands 60cm at the shoulder and weighs ca. 35kg. The Columbian White-tailed Deer subspecies (O. v. leucurus) from coastal Oregon and Washington is also Endangered. Once thought to number 40 million, populations were reduced to about a half million by the end of the nineteenth century. Subsequent management resulted in rebounding populations that now number 15 million in the US alone, with an annual hunter harvest of 2 million. Prefers forest edges and open woodlands near brushlands, especially old fields and agricultural areas. Uses a variety of forested habitats from temperate to tropical, semiarid to rain forest, making it one of our most widespread species.

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