Living with Deer

white-tailed deerWhite-tailed deer can be found throughout much of Ontario.  Their range appears to be expanding northward over time. 


Abundant food makes almost any forested or bushy area suitable for deer, including parks and green spaces created by people. In winter, as snow deepens, deer concentrate in areas that provide food and shelter from deep snow.


During the spring and summer, deer eat leafy material from woody plants, grasses and herbs. They also eat mushrooms and blueberries. In autumn and winter, deer depend largely on the twigs and buds that are within their reach. Acorns are a favourite autumn food for white-tailed deer living in eastern Canada.


Deer reproduce quickly. In some cases, a healthy herd can almost double its numbers during one favourable year.


A deer's natural predators include wolves, coyotes and bobcats. 


Conflicts happen


Vehicle collisions can pose a serious threat to motorists and deer. 


Deer will browse in yards and gardens which can cause damage to property.


Please keep in mind…


Wild animals have the same basic needs as humans – food, water and shelter. Sometimes, humans and wild creatures come into conflict when animals are trying to meet their basic needs. Often, conflicts can be prevented if we're willing to make small changes to how we think and act.


People and wild animals live side by side in Ontario. We all share responsibility for preventing and handling human-wildlife conflicts. If you must take action against wildlife, please consider all your options and follow all relevant laws and regulations.



Conflicts with Deer


How Can I Prevent Conflicts?


Make your property unwelcoming 

  • Never feed deer.
  • Landscaping with deer-resistant plants will deter deer from damaging property.  Species include juniper, sumac, birch, dogwood, pine and flowers such as daisy, geranium and iris.
  • Deer tend to avoid plants with thorns, fuzzy or velvety leaves or a strong taste. Try strategically planting these species in your garden.
  • The presence of a dog can help keep deer away.  However, dogs are not permitted to chase deer unless accompanied by a licensed hunter in the open season.


Drive safely 

  • Collisions usually occur between dusk and dawn.
  • Deer are most active during the spring and fall.
  • One deer crossing the road may be a sign that more deer are about to cross. Watch for other deer.
  • Drive with vigilance, constantly looking for deer near roads.
  • Drive slowly in known deer crossing areas.
  • If you see a deer, dim your lights and honk your horn to scare it off the road. Brake and avoid swerving.
  • Be aware that headlights confuse deer and may cause them to move erratically or stop.
  • Leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle ahead.


How Can I Handle a Conflict?


  • Put fences or cattle guards around areas where you wish to keep deer out.
  • Electric fencing can be very effective at preventing deer from accessing plants.
  • Use tree guards to protect young, individual trees on your property.
  • For the short-term, commercially-prepared or homemade repellents sprayed on plants may keep deer away.
  • Build a scarecrow and include bright lights and noisemakers that are on motion sensors.


Hunting as a tool to reduce conflicts  

  • If significant property damage is occurring, contact your local Ministry of Natural Resources office.
  • You may not take lethal action against deer in protection of property.
  • Hunting is an effective way to manage deer populations and prevent conflicts. You may hunt deer in the open season with a valid outdoors card and appropriate licence and seals. You can also encourage hunting on your property.  Regulations, seasons and municipal bylaws must be followed.

For more information and assistance…

For information on deer…
• Call your local Ministry of Natural Resources office or the Natural Resources Information Centre at 1-800-667-1940.
• Check out Hinterland Who's Who

For information on driving in deer country…
• Check out the Ministry of Transportation's Watch For Wildlife



Return to Living with Wildlife - Species Fact Sheets list



The doe leaves her fawn unattended for hours at a time. The natural camouflage of a fawn's spotted coat can effectively conceal it from predators.