Many states are overrun with deer

I recently read an amazing article by Jim Sterba about huge problems with deer all over the country. Jim’s column was published by the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) in Bozeman, Montana.

You can read Jim’s article here:

And here are a few things from the article, to wet your appetite.

Tom Rawinski, a U.S. Forest Service botanist in the Northeast, calls overabundant whitetails “the greatest conservation challenge of our time.”

By the 1980s, whitetail populations started to explode, especially in suburban, exurban, and rural-sprawl areas where more people were living and where hunting was highly restricted.

Instead of five to 15 deer per square mile, as was common in rural areas, sprawl was accommodating 40, 80, or even in excess of 100 deer per square mile.

By 2000, American drivers were hitting 3,000 to 4,000 deer per day

Deer-vehicle collisions kill upwards of 300 people and hospitalize nearly 30,000 more annually.

White-tailed deer are a plague.

For example, in Massachusetts, which is the third most densely populated state, it’s not legal to discharge a firearm within 150 feet of a hard-surfaced road or within 500 feet of an occupied building without the owner’s written permission—which isn’t easy to get in the burbs. These two restrictions alone put almost two-thirds of the Bay State effectively off-limits to hunting. And almost half of the state’s 351 municipalities impose further prohibitions and restrictions, including on bow-and-arrow hunting. Lots of states have rules like this. They create huge patchworks of deer sanctuaries.

Where allowed in the United States, some 11 million hunters kill about 6 million deer annually—not nearly enough to stabilize, let alone dent, populations.

Hunters are so spoiled now that any herd reduction below 40 to 50 deer [per square mile] is unacceptable.

In some states, a hunter can kill a deer a day for more than 100 days. But why would they?

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.