New Resource Available to Help Communities Manage Deer

Free online tool puts communities in touch with experts and each other

Madison, WI, and Ithaca, NY | November 28, 2016

Everyone enjoys seeing a spotted fawn in the woods, but the precipitous increase of U.S. white-tailed deer populations over the last 50 years, including here in Wisconsin, has led to animal-human interactions that are not healthy for deer or people.

Today, Cornell University and The Nature Conservancy launched Community Deer Advisor, a free online resource for communities seeking information about managing overabundant deer populations. The tool connects communities with science-based resources and allows them to learn best practices from wildlife experts, agencies, academics, and each other in order to develop a deer management program tailored to their situation.

Present in all 48 states in the continental U.S., white-tailed deer populations reached an all-time high of more than 30 million in the last decade. In many places, they have benefited from an abundance of easily-acquired food in forests, farm fields and, increasingly, in homeowners’ yards and gardens.

As deer numbers have increased, so have conflicts between people and deer. For example:

  • More than one million deer-vehicle collisions annually, including, on average, 200 fatalities and $4 billion in damages.
  • The number of confirmed cases of Lyme disease has doubled and Rocky Mountain spotted fever has quadrupled in the last 20 years. Deer provide both food for the feeding of ticks and act as vectors for tick-borne diseases.
  • Protecting young tree seedlings from deer browsing can triple planting costs.

“Whether it’s wildlife watching or the family hunting camp, deer are an important part of Wisconsin’s history, culture and economy. Too many deer, however, threaten the health of our forests and the forest products and jobs we depend on. They also create challenges for people living in our cities and suburbs. We are hopeful that Community Deer Advisor will provide people with the tools they need to find local solutions to abundant deer populations that benefit their communities, our forests and deer themselves,” said Matt Dallman, who directs The Nature Conservancy’s work in northern Wisconsin.

Here’s what communities will find on the site:

  • A “Deer Management 101” section for local public administrators and committees to familiarize themselves with the basics of community-based deer management.
  • A useful process for thinking through how to manage deer in a community and how to communicate with city/town/county administrators and community members to assess the need for deer management.
  • Examples showing how more than 150 communities across the U.S., in various stages of deer management, are working to restore the balance between deer and the landscape.
  • An opportunity for communities to share their own deer management stories.
  • A list of organizations that provide assistance or services to communities involved in deer management planning.
  • Links to a selection of articles, documents and management guides that other communities have found useful in shaping their deer management programs.

“The best solutions to deer-related problems will vary from place to place. There is no one-size-fits-all prescription that will work perfectly in every situation, so leaders and citizens in each community will need to work through a process to find the best way forward for them. That can seem daunting at first, but a little guidance can help overcome these challenges. We are offering a process that helps communities figure out the best deer management options for their local situation,” says Dr. Daniel J. Decker, a professor in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University who specializes in the human dimensions of wildlife management.

Go to to find the resources you need to work with others to restore the balance between deer and natural landscapes and make your community a healthier, safer place to live—for both deer and people.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 65 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Chris Anderson
The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin
612-331-0747 (office)
612-845-2744 (mobile)

Ellen Leventry
Cornell University


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