Deer in Arlington

Published on September 28, 2021


White-tailed deer are native to Arlington. However, by 1900 white-tailed deer had been extirpated from most of Virginia. Through the 1940’s to 1980’s with restocking efforts, laws protecting deer and favorable habitat, deer have rebounded at an exponential rate in Virginia. Until recently, only anecdotal data on Arlington deer was known.

Recently, some Arlington community members have expressed concern with the perceived increase in deer population and possible impact on the natural environment, public safety and public health. As identified in the 2010 Natural Resources Management Plan, a sub-element of the Public Spaces Master Plan, the County has a long-standing commitment to natural resource protection and conservation.

To better understand the size of the deer population, the County contracted with Steward Green LLC to conduct a deer survey between April 8-12, 2021. The survey found that Arlington has 290 deer at a minimum, averaging 13 per square mile. While the average deer per square mile across Arlington is less than the industry standard sustainable level of 5-15 deer per square mile, the high concentrations of deer in specific areas, some of which fall within Natural Resource Conservation Areas, presents a challenge for localized natural resources and suggests the County investigate the need for deer management strategies in these geographically constrained areas.

Here’s the Deer Density Final Report 2021(PDF, 12MB). Here's the presentation Arlington County Deer Survey and Next Steps(PDF, 3MB).

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