Be Cautious Around Deer During Peak of Mating Season

In most situations, people and wildlife can coexist. The key is to respect the wildness of wildlife.
Two whitetail bucks fight for mating rights. Wayne D. Lewis/CPW
Two whitetail bucks fight for mating rights. Wayne D. Lewis/CPW

Throughout Colorado, deer are in the peak of mating season. Colorado Parks and Wildlife wants to remind the public to take extra precautions to avoid conflicts.

“Bucks are more aggressive this time of year and will stand their ground in the presence of people,” said CPW Area Wildlife Manager Adrian Archuleta. “It is especially important for people and their pets to give deer extra space this time of year.”

Mating season for deer is known as the “rut.” During this time, bucks are territorial and loaded with testosterone. They may attack people that appear to be competitive rivals. 

Deer may also see dogs as threats. In past years, bucks have gored people and dogs. If you see deer in your neighborhood, keep your distance. Never attempt to get close to deer, never feed them and never try to pet them.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Recommends

  • Keep dogs on a leash.
  • On walks, with or without your dog, stay as far away from deer as possible.
  • Don’t allow dogs to roam free.
  • Check your yard before letting your dog outside.
  • Never let your dog chase deer or other wildlife.
  • Never leave food outside that could attract wildlife.
  • Tell children not to approach deer or any other wildlife

Bucks in the rut may also spar with and become tangled in swing sets, volleyball nets, bicycles, vegetable-wire cages, hoses and more. 

Along with tangle hazards in yards, holiday lights become a constant hazard to bucks this time of year. Make sure holiday decorations and lights are attached firmly to structures and strung at least eight feet off the ground. Do not drape lights loose on top of shrubbery or wrap lights around the trunks of trees, which bucks rub their antlers on to sharpen them during the mating season.

“Our wildlife officers respond to calls every year of deer stuck in various netting and holiday decorations,” Archuleta said. “In some cases, these hazards prevent the deer from being able to eat and breathe. Additionally, this causes high levels of stress on the animal and can lead to fatality.

“When deer do become entangled, it is important for the public to call their closest CPW office quickly with location information. People should never try to free deer of these hazards themselves because of the serious risk of injury that can be caused by antlers and hooves.”

Drivers are also reminded to slow down and be on the lookout for deer on highways. Not only are bucks in pursuit of a mate, but animals are also migrating to winter range and will be more present crossing roadways both on highways and arterial roadways.

The rut for deer usually continues until late December. For more information on living with wildlife, please visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website.

Written by John Livingston. John is the Southwest region public information officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

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