Deer Population of California has Dropped 50% Since 1990
The deer population of California is in a steep decline. In an absolutely stunning piece about deer population in the Sacramento Bee, both mule deer and black tail deer populations have been cut in half in the last twelve years. This is true even in many rural areas. (A good portion of the Coast range for example is in areas designated as having over a 50% decline.) According to the Bee,
Rural residents might tell a different story. They see deer frequently around their yards, in their gardens, and as roadkill. Indeed, deer in these areas are often considered a pest.
[However,] Deer require a particular type of forest habitat called “early seral.” This means they prefer to eat the tender, nutritious, young vegetation that surges for several years after a forest fire or other land disturbance.
The problem for rural residents, these days, is that deer primarily find this kind of food in the vigorous growth of gardens and landscaping that tend to go with rural housing development.
According to the article, in an ironic twist, the suppression of forest fires, often presented to the public as a way of protecting wildlife, has prevented much of “early seral” habitat from forming.
The North Coast, and all of California, need to be working on ways to encourage the population to recover. This might include less suppression of wildfires.