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White-Tailed Deer

White-Tailed Buck

White-Tailed Deer

Odocoileus virginianus
Family: 
Cervidae (deer) in the order Artiodactyla
Description: 

In summer, they are reddish-brown to tan above; the winter the colors are grayish to grayish brown. Fawns are reddish, brown or reddish-yellow spotted with white; they lose their spots and acquire uniform coloration at 3–5 months of age. Antlers normally occur only in males and are formed and shed each year. Antler growth starts in April or May. During the growth period, the soft skin and short hair covering the antlers have a plushlike quality, giving this stage the name of "velvet." The white-tailed deer is aptly named because the white undersurface of its flaglike tail is about all that we see in the fleeting glimpse we get as it bounds across an opening in the woods.

Size: 
Total length: 2.5–8 feet; tail length: 4–14 inches; weight: 90–311 pounds.
Habitat and conservation: 
Deer live in timbered areas, especially at the borders of clearings, where they obtain the variety of foods they like; this includes woodlands adjacent to agricultural crops. The major aspects of deer management in Missouri have been controlling the annual harvest by hunters, transplanting live-trapped deer to stock new ranges and preventing illegal kills. Some landowners wish to increase the deer population on their property; others wish to exclude deer, which forage on crops and trees.
Foods: 
Deer are browsing animals, eating the leaves, twigs and fruits of trees and shrubs, and the foliage of herbaceous plants. They also take seeds, fungi, mosses, lichens, succulent grasses, farm crops and sometimes small amounts of animal food like snails and fish.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Statewide.
Status: 
Common.
Life cycle: 
The peak of the mating (rutting) season is in November. Most young are born in late May or early June. A doe usually has twins; each weighs 4–7 pounds at birth. The young accompany the female until they are old enough to breed. About half of the young females in Missouri breed in the year of their birth. Other females and young males breed first at 1½ years of age. Deer are in the prime of life between 2½ and 7½ years of age. Deer can live for 15 years in the wild and 25 years in captivity.
Human connections: 
Deer were essential to Indians and early settlers, providing food, hides, sinews for bowstrings, bones for tools, and much more. Today deer still provide us considerable food, sport and pleasure, as hunting is a major industry in this country. The presence of deer is an asset to vacation sites.
Ecosystem connections: 
As deer nip off buds and branches, they encourage denser growth on the plants they forage on. When deer are overabundant, they can cause serious damage to food-plant populations. Although deer are today chased most commonly by free-running dogs, they also provide food for coyotes and bobcats.
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http://mdc.mo.gov/node/984