Whitetail Deer Population in Central Texas
The Texas Hill Country, in Central Texas, has one of the highest whitetail deer populations in the state. With densities reaching between 3 to 15 acres per deer, the Hill Country is estimated to have over 40% of the whitetail deer found in Texas. The whitetail deer overpopulation has been a problem for decades and with the most significant problem facing the herds is the severe competition for their food supplies. It’s not healthy to have dense populations of deer or any animal for that matter. Safety of motorist, property damage and the possibly of disease within the whitetail herds are all major concerns.
Health Concerns & Property Damage
Additional deer in the road ways is a safety hazard for drivers. Deer related auto accidents can prove far too often to be fatal for the driver and/or passenger. Each deer involved auto accident can costs motorist thousands of dollars in repairs. Another health hazard to the public include concerns with the spread of Lyme disease, a devastating illness spread by deer ticks.
There are limited food sources in urban areas where deer populations have exploded. Deer can wipe out a homeowner’s landscaping. Planting with deer resistant plants can help. Although if the deer are hungry enough even the deer resistant plants aren’t safe.
Controlling Deer Populations
Without the natural ways of controlling deer populations, deer stress out other plants and wildlife. Deer populations need to reach stable levels for the sake of the deer as well as other native plants and animals. Options available to control deer populations include trapping and hunting. Some areas have considered ordinances to prohibit citizens from feeding the deer. Deer traps are very effective in lowering deer populations. Permitted annual trapping in Horseshoe Bay runs from Dec to March and has greatly reduced deer populations.
Predators that once naturally controlled deer populations are greatly reduced to non-existent in urban areas due to lost habitat. Urban growth has pushed out wolves and mountain lions. A parasite known as the screw-worm fly also once helped control deer populations. This fly would lay its eggs in the open wounds in animals and the larva would inflame the wound, cause infections and/or death. The screw-worm fly was devastating to livestock as well. This parasite was controlled and eventually eliminated from Texas in the 1960s.
Often, urban residents do not understand that deer populations must be managed. Without management residents would experience increased property damage and additional health and safety concerns.