Black-tailed deer

Katie Dugger, Clinton W. Epps, Paige Larson, Rachel Crowhurst

Latin name: Odocoileus hemionus columbianus

The historical black-tailed deer is a subspecies of mule deer which has experienced apparent widespread decline since the 1980's. The decline prompted  statewide efforts to determine the cause of decline and direct management actions towards effective harvest management and the propagation of deer herds. Former M.S. student Kevyn Groot and associate professor Katie Dugger estimated mid-1990's survival rates and causes of mortality for radio-marked black-tailed deer, with the goal of utilizing past population parameters as a foundation for current research and management. - Katie Dugger

Columbian black-tailed deer are found in western Oregon, from the western side of the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.  Because of their secretive, nocturnal habits and the dense habitats that they prefer, they are extremely difficult to survey.  Since 2012, the Epps Population Genetics Laboratory has worked in collaboration with ODFW to conduct noninvasive genetic capture-recapture studies in multiple management units across Oregon.  To date, we have genotyped (commonly called “DNA-fingerprinting”) over 15,000 fecal samples, to identify the number of unique deer in surveyed areas.  These data are assisting ODFW in constructing population estimates, in which in turn will help ODFW monitor benchmarks and set quotas for harvest.  - Rachel Crowhurst

Did you know? Blacktailed deer are difficult to census because they are mostly nocturnal and inhabit areas with thick undergrowth. Trained scat-collection dogs sniff out deer pellets for analysis; we typically analyze >4000 fecal samples per year (probably >15,000 to date).


In progress: We are collaborating with ODFW on a multi-year population estimate of blacktailed deer in certain WMUs using a genetic mark-recapture technique.