Deer Control in The Landings

By Jonathan Smith
USDA Wildlife Biologist

Deer control is an issue that many regions throughout the country deal with and The Landings is no exception. The Landings Association led the way in urban deer management in the State of Georgia by receiving a favorable decision by the State Supreme Court to manage the increasing deer population. Since 1994, The Landings has participated in a deer control program regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This program includes a contract with the USDA where the herd is culled during nighttime activities by a USDA wildlife biologist.

Below is a list of important information about the deer population and deer control program:

  • The deer herd within The Landings fluctuates depending on the season and the environmental conditions in the area. During a normal year, we may have a 40 percent increase in population due to reproduction and immigration.
  • Stressful times of the year typically include late winter before green-up and late summer. During the summer, if it is hot and/or dry, deer key in on watered landscaping. Deer receive the majority of water intake from the vegetation they eat, so most plant varieties, flowers, and shrubs are fair game during these conditions
  • During the spring, bucks start to form bachelor groups until their testosterone levels start to rise in early fall.
  • Does will form family groups and have fawns in late May. During this time, their home ranges decrease considerably as they are raising fawns, but they are continuing to move around to find new resources.
  • Only male deer are culled during the months of June, July, and August. During these three months, the deer are fawning (having offspring). Aside from those times, the deer are culled every month, typically during the late nighttime hours.

Although the deer program is a sensitive issue for some, there are a multitude benefits to our management program. The current program helps prevent vehicular accidents, reduces the risk of disease and health issues in the herd, helps control parasites such as deer ticks that carry lime disease, and limits the damage to landscaping and the ecosystem. Before the initiation of the program at The Landings, habitat studies revealed that there was very little to no natural regeneration of edible plant species on the island because of the deer.

In addition to its preventive aspects, the program also provides food for local shelters and food banks within the Savannah area. After health checks are performed on the culled deer (to rule out disease), the deer meat is processed and donated to local food banks. Since the program’s inception, more than 70 tons of venison have been donated through the Landings’ program.

For more information about the Landings’ deer management program, please contact The Public Works Department (598-5509 or pw@landings.org).