About our deer

Columbian black-tailed deer, Odocoileus hemionus columbianus, are native to BC, ranging from the central coast of BC along the coastline into California. They are an important prey species, a key herbivore for maintaining ecosystem function, and a game species for many British Columbians.

Black-tailed deer thrive near forest edges, as they prefer the underbrush for foraging, yet still capitalize on the cover these areas provide. Because of this, wooded suburban environments like golf courses, parks, and roadside green belts are especially utilized by black-tailed deer. Their main food item is browse (the growing tips of trees and shrubs) but will also consume fruit, nuts, acorns, fungi, and lichens.

Mating occurs in November and December during a rutting season, where bucks compete for the right to breed with females through specific postures, movements, and sometimes intense combat. Pregnancy lasts 180 to 200 days, and while younger does give birth to one fawn, does 3-9 years of age that are in good condition often have twins.

Family groups can form, often one female with her yearlings, but can include her fawns from the previous year. Occasionally several does and their offspring will be seen together.


During the rut

During late-fall’s rutting season, bucks lose any “street sense” in their single-minded search for a doe. To minimize the chance of surprise encounters, drivers, cyclists and others should pay attention, especially around dawn and dusk, when deer tend to be more active.

While bucks are only interested in other deer, it’s best to keep your distance as you would with any wildlife:


When walking, give bucks extra space

Leave an escape route for deer that is far away from yourself. Keep dogs on a leash and if you encounter a deer, shorten your dog’s lead, stop it barking (if possible), and back away to give deer more distance. Always check your yard carefully for deer before letting your dog out.

When driving, watch the roadside

Drive with attention and reduce speed, especially when driving in unfamiliar areas at dawn and dusk. Scan ahead, looking for movement or shining eyes at the roadside.

When cycling, give yourself time and space

Give deer lots of space so you can react to any unpredictable movement. This includes pulling out from the curb (if safe to do so) to give deer a wide berth. Slow down, and just like a driver, scan ahead, looking for movement.