Living with Mule Deer

Mule deer are one of the most abundant ungulates in Nevada. They can be found all over the state and may even be found in your urban community. Learning how to coexist with mule deer is an important job for Nevadans:

What if I find a mule deer in my backyard?

Mule deer can often be found coming into our yards to enjoy all of the delicious food we have to offer (though oftentimes they are uninvited guests). Here are some ways you can discourage them from being in your yard: 

  • Avoid feeding mule deer – whether it be by hand or providing food sources that may attract them to your yard. This can include corn, birdseed, and fruit from trees.
    • It’s understandable that you can’t completely eliminate all food sources (grass, shrubs) but eliminate the ones you can!
  • For your garden, you can plant deer deterrent plants like mint and lavender.
  • If you have raised beds, fully enclose them with fencing so that some curious, hungry deer can’t gain access. 
  • Install garden ornaments, flood lights, or chimes to scare deer.They can be particularly skittish to moving objects or sudden lights.
    • You may have to constantly change up your tactics as they can become habituated to certain movements and sounds, so variety is key! 
  • Drive cautiously when entering and exiting your neighborhood to avoid deer that may dart across roads or stand in blind spots.
Will a mule deer harm my pets?

Though generally harmless, mule deer can become aggressive around the mating season in the early fall, and when fawns are present.

  • During this time, make sure pets are always on a 6ft leash when being walked.
  • Keep pets indoors or in a secure area where mule deer are not able to breach.
What do I do in a close encounter with a mule deer?

Deer attacks are uncommon but can happen during mating and fawning seasons. If an aggressive deer does approach you follow these suggestions:

  • Move back slowly while facing the deer.
  • NEVER corner a deer or its fawn.
  • Put an obstacle between yourself and the deer. This can prevent antlers or hooves from coming into contact with you.
What if I find a fawn alone?

It is not uncommon to stumble across a fawn with no adult deer in sight. The fawn is most likely NOT abandoned or orphaned. Female deer have to find their own food, and will often leave fawns for several hours in high grassy areas or areas with natural cover. The fawn’s job is to stay put and stay still. The spots on a fawn’s coat helps them to blend in. The best thing to do if you come across a fawn alone is to leave it alone. You can keep an eye out on the fawn to make sure that the adult returns, but keep your distance from the fawn. If you think the fawn is injured or ill refer to the suggestions listed below.

What if I find an injured deer?

Deer sometimes get injured or become sick. If you have found a deer that you think might be sick or injured, observe its behavior for a few minutes, note the exact location. If the deer is still in the same location after 24 hours and it is not a fawn, you can reach out to NDOW for assistance.

There are no rehab services for sick or injured deer, so the animal’s best chance of survival is to be left alone. Mule deer, and really all wildlife, are incredibly resilient and can overcome many challenges! With this in mind, please do not attempt to feed, provide water, or attempt to touch an injured deer. Injured wildlife can lash out, this is for your safety.

Can I provide food to the deer?

No, per Nevada state law it is illegal to willfully feed any game mammal, this includes deer! Not only is it illegal but feeding of wildlife often leads to many issues including habituation. This is when an animal gets accustomed to humans and is no longer afraid of them. In some cases, this can lead to animals becoming aggressive as they associate humans with food. There have been instances of deer attacking people because they view them as a source of food. Don’t let this happen!

If you see a neighbor feeding the deer, please report them to our Operation Game Thief program at: 1-800-992-3030.

With your help we can help to keep our deer WILD!

Will NDOW remove/relocate the deer?

We currently do not have a program to remove urban deer. Ultimately, removal of animals is not a long-term solution. Even if every single deer was removed, more would likely come into the area if there was suitable habitat. The best long-term solution is to try to make your property as unappealing as possible and ensure excess attractants are unavailable.

Does the department pick up dead deer?

No, we do not have a program to remove dead deer. If the deceased deer is on the side of the road, the agency responsible for the road maintenance is responsible for the removal of the animal. If the animal is on private property, reach out to your county to see if they have a removal program. If they do not, there are critter removal companies that can be hired to remove the animal or you can bury it or take it to Waste Management.

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