Deer Management Project

About the Project

White-tailed deer are native to Arlington, belong here, and are an essential part of the ecology. However, when there are too many deer, they can harm the environment by eating certain plants faster than they can grow back and will compete for food which can lead to malnourishment, disease, and increased mortality rates. Arlington does not have enough predators for deer, so the deer population can grow too quickly and upset the balance of nature. This project aims to identify ways to protect Arlington's County-owned natural land parks so that all the plants and animals that are a part of the County's ecosystem can live and thrive here.

The Deer Management Project will:

  • Investigate and address the potential need for active deer management in County-owned natural land parks, some of which fall within Natural Resource Conservation Areas.
  • Delineate potential management strategies to mitigate negative ecological impacts identified, sustain a healthy deer population, and protect forest habitat on public land for native flora and fauna.
  • Delineate a monitoring program to assess the effectiveness of any plan implemented. 

The scope of work includes:

  • Conducting deer browse impact surveys within select County-owned natural land parks. 
  • Combining new and past data with a review of relevant literature and regional benchmarking to determine if active deer management is necessary to meet County stewardship goals.  
  • Delineating a suite of potential deer management strategies to achieve or maintain stewardship goals on County-owned natural land parks.  
  • Engaging the community and stakeholders throughout the process. 
  • Presenting draft recommendations for deer management in County-owned natural land parks and a monitoring program to assess the effectiveness of any plan to the County Board.

Check out a quick explainer video here and learn more about deer in Arlington

About the Process

Winter 2024: Community members were invited to join the project team for two informational sessions (see recordings for February 8 and February 12). Project staff were joined by the contractor, White Buffalo Inc. to answer presubmitted questions as well as questions from the chat box. 

Spring/Summer 2023: Arlington County published the browse assessment written by White Buffalo Inc. A community engagement process including an online feedback form, community meeting, and small focused deep dive conversations was conducted to solicit feedback on the recommendation to develop and implement a plan and potential deer management strategies.  Feel free to dig deeper into the engagement summary and raw questionnaire data that reflect back all that we heard throughout this first engagement. 

Summer 2022: Arlington County hired White Buffalo Inc., a well-known and regarded wildlife management and research organization with regional experience, to perform data collection and analysis to better determine deers’ impact on county-owned natural land parks. In addition, they worked to draft a browse assessment that shares potential management strategies to mitigate negative ecological impacts on County owned natural land parks, sustain a healthy deer population, and protect county-owned natural land parks for all native flora and fauna.   

Fall 2021: Staff provided an update regarding the results of DPR’s contracted deer drone survey conducted in April 2021 along with next steps. 

Spring 2021: 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. Please take a look at the Deer Density Final Report 2021 and associated presentation of the Arlington County Deer Survey and Next Steps for more information. 



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General Fund