Living with Wild Deer in Residential Areas
The following information, suggestions and resources have been compiled by the District 5 Office with information provided by Berkeley’s Animal Services and the California Department of Fish and Game.
Deer acting aggressively towards dogs.
Every year in spring and summer Animal Services receives a few calls about deer acting aggressively towards pet dogs. Wildcare, a wildlife rescue organization in Marin advises the following:
If the deer is female, she is most likely protecting her fawn that will be hiding nearby. A male deer may behave aggressively during mating season (Autumn). Both these behaviors are hormonal and are seasonal. Keep your dogs on leash and avoid the area for a couple of weeks. The deer will move on.
Relocating wildlife is illegal in California and, although relocation sounds humane, in most cases relocation results in the death of the animal. Removed from its den, food and water sources and comfort zone, most wildlife will perish.
Feeding deer is illegal. Do not intentionally or unintentionally feed deer. Additionally, discourage neighbors from doing the same.
Deer in residential areas
Leave the deer alone unless it is causing a traffic hazard. If this is the case call animal services or the police department. Do not chase or scare the deer unless it is acting aggressively toward you or destroying your landscape. If so, use hazing techniques such as waving an umbrella, banging a large pot with a spoon, spraying with a hose, or installing a motion activated sprinkler to exclude it from an area.
If the deer is in a back yard, leave it alone. In most cases it will move on during the evening or night when it feels safe to do so. If it appears sick or injured call animal services. If it has become habituated into the backyard use hazing techniques, provide adequate exclusionary fencing, and remove attractants (fallen fruit, bedding area, etc.) If it is merely transient and passing through, then it is best to leave it alone.
Mother deer leave their fawns alone for large portions of the day. The fawn will settle down and wait for her, curled up in a small ball in that “don’t notice me” position. This is normal and don't disturb a fawn who is laying down.
If the fawn looks cold, hungry, confused, or sick (eg. staggering, panting, head held low with tongue sticking out, or obvious injury, such as a broken limb or large laceration) call and report it to Animal Services. Do not feed the animal.
Living with Deer
- Deer vs. vehicles pose a serious risk to motorists and quite a few deer are struck and killed by vehicle. BE ALERT AND DRIVE CAREFULLY.
- The best way of controlling deer is fencing. Deer fences should be at least 8' high. The fence should be slanted towards the approach area.
- Plant shrubs and trees that are known to be deer-resistant. For a list of plants and trees that are deer-resistant, write to the Resources Agency, California Department of Fish and Game, Resources Bldg., 1416 Ninth St., Sacramento, CA 95814 or contact the California Native Plant Society.
- There are some deer repellants that work, but you have to be very diligent about applying them (this too can be costly for large areas).
- Motion activated sprinklers appropriately placed and calibrated are highly effective.
- Effigies work for a while, but they must be moved daily, otherwise the deer will habituate to them as long as they no longer perceive them as a threat. The same holds true for scare devices.
For more information contact:
Berkeley Animal Care Services (510) 981 6600
Wildcare Solutions (415) 456 SAVE
Department of Fish and Game (707) 944 5500
To report a violation or a trapped or wounded deer, contact:
Berkeley’s Animal Care Services (510)981-6600
Department of Fish and Game dispatcher (831)649-2801.
Outdoor California Bi-Monthly magazine with color photography and in-depth articles featuring outdoor adventures and the status of the state's wondrous living resources. P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, Ca 94244-2090
Gardener's Guide to Preventing Deer Damage
California Department of Fish and Game Deer Information
UC Davis Integrated Pest Management Program
California Native Plant Society: East Bay Chapter