Black-tailed Deer

Odocoileus hemionus

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Black-tailed Deer are common in the forests, woodlands and riparian areas of the Coast Range Mountains where there is plenty of browse and cover. These deer are easily identified by their stout bodies with reddish- or grayish-brown fur and a pale throat, belly and nose-patches. One of their most distinctive features, visible on both males and females, is the tri-colored tail with a black upper surface which will flick quickly when the animal becomes nervous or alarmed.

Because Black-tailed Deer are browsers, they tend to wander in small family groups from place to place as they search for green and aquatic plants. Bucks are more solitary but will often winter with does. They are primarily nocturnal, but can be spotted in the early morning hours. Most biologists consider the Black-tailed Deer to be a subspecies of the Mule Deer.

Range and Habitat

Black-tailed Deer can be found throughout the western part of the United States, from northern California to southern Alaska.

Conservation Status

Common. Black-tailed Deer are often found in the same areas as elk and are a favorite game animal with hunters. They are related to the Columbia White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginiannus leucurus) which is listed as an Endangered Species in Oregon.

Photo credit: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.