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Deer

Class: Mammalia Family: Cervidae Order: Artiodactyla Genus: Odocoileus

There are six subspecies of mule deer in California: Columbian black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus), Rocky Mountain mule deer (O.h. hemionus), California mule deer (O.h. californicus), Inyo mule deer (O.h. inyoensis), burro deer (O.h. ermicus), and southern mule deer (O.h. fuliginatus).

Deer Management

California's deer herds are a valuable resource to both hunters and non-hunters alike. Deer can be seen throughout most of California providing enjoyment for many outdoor enthusiasts. For future generations to experience the benefits that come from having healthy, viable deer populations, updated conservation and management strategies are essential.

CDFW's Deer Program (Program) is composed of branch and field biologists who work together coordinating programs throughout the state. The Program, its activities, and staff are largely supported by hunters through the purchase of hunting licenses and deer tags. Biologists develop hunting regulations, provide expertise on habitat and population assessments, compile harvest information, conduct and direct research needs, monitor and estimate populations and respond to various public inquiries related to deer in California. Biologists also work to coordinate joint projects with outside agencies, universities and private entities.

The 1976 A Plan for California Deer was developed to restore deer populations to the record high numbers of the 1950’s. However, with the growing human population in California and continuing loss of quality deer habitats, biologists have realized that an updated approach to deer conservation and management is needed.

The 2016 Deer Management Plan is an update to the 1976 A Plan for California Deer and is a framework for Deer Conservation Unit (DCU) Plans. The CDFW received and responded to link opens in new windowpublic comments (PDF) on the 2016 Draft Deer Management Plan.

The goals of the Deer Management Plan are to manage the state’s deer and deer habitats on a landscape level and to develop and implement robust population management methods. Major goals of the plan are:

  1. Develop Deer Conservation Unit Plans;
  2. Develop updated population management objectives;
  3. Develop habitat conservation objectives;
  4. Develop research, monitoring and adaptive management objectives; and
  5. Develop outreach objectives.


Wildlife Branch - Game Management
1812 9th Street, Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 445-0411