The white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is New York’s most popular game animal and is found throughout the state. Residents and visitors to the state derive countless hours of enjoyment from the white- tailed deer resource. While interests vary, a healthy deer herd provides opportunities to enrich our lives and our appreciation for the natural world. As large herbivores, deer also play a role in shaping the landscape and can compete with human interests.

Abundant deer populations can negatively affect plant communities and the other wildlife dependent on those communities. Deer can also cause problems for farmers, tree growers and homeowners and are a frequent hazard for motorists. Management of deer in New York seeks to maximize the benefits of this important resource while being mindful of the human and ecological concerns associated with abundant deer populations.

The purpose of New York’s Deer Management Plan is two-fold. The first is to outline the components of New York’s deer management program in a single document. Public review, comment and acceptance are critical components to effective deer management in the public interest. The second purpose of this plan is to provide strategic direction for deer management in New York over the next five years. Using a five-year timeframe allows for periodic evaluation by deer managers and the public and for subsequent improvement on a relatively frequent basis.

This plan describes six primary goals identified by DEC that encompass the current priorities for deer management and the values and issues expressed by the public: 1) manage deer populations at levels that are appropriate for human and ecological concerns; 2) promote and enhance deer hunting as an important recreational activity, tradition and management tool in New York; 3) reduce the negative impacts caused by deer; 4) foster understanding and communication about deer ecology, management, economic aspects and recreational opportunities while enhancing DEC’s understanding of the public’s interest; 5) manage deer to promote healthy and sustainable forests and enhance habitat conservation efforts to benefit deer and other species; and 6) ensure that the necessary resources are available to support the proper management of white-tailed deer in New York. DEC seeks to achieve these goals through implementation of sound scientific management principles in a manner that is responsive to the complex ecological, cultural, recreational, and economic dynamics associated with deer in New York. 

In addition, calls for continued review and modification of management practices as needed to improve program efficiency and effectiveness. Many of the strategies identified in this plan are descriptions of activities that are already occurring in the deer management program. Other strategies reflect new work or propose new concepts to be more fully explored during the 5-year period of this plan.

Successful implementation of many aspects of this plan will require greater levels of cooperation and partnership between the DEC and other organizations and agencies and a sustained commitment to support deer management efforts in New York.

Further, deer populations and deer management are influenced by long-term cultural and ecological changes (e.g., declines in hunter numbers, changes in land use and human development, and climate change). DEC’s ability to understand, predict, and respond to these influences will be foundational to maintain effective deer management in the future. This plan identifies the need for long-term planning and research but also suggests immediate options to make hunters more effective, to reduce human- deer conflicts, and to initiate a stronger connection between deer population objectives and deer impacts on their habitat.

 By focusing on the goals of this plan, DEC strives to provide a deer management program that balances the diverse interests and values of the public with the biological needs and ecological relationships of deer, for the benefit of New York’s white-tailed deer herd and the people of New York.