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Are deer aggressive?

White-tailed deer are not inherently aggressive animals. In fact, given the choice of fight or flight, white-tailed deer use flight as a survival strategy. However, like most animals, a white-tailed doe can become aggressive if she perceives that her young are threatened. Indeed, most reports of aggression tend to happen around fawning areas. Instances of a buck attacking people are rare. The IDNR has characterized the much-publicized attack on area dog in 2009 as a "very rare and isolated incident."


To reduce the likelihood of an unfavorable encounter, there are a few common sense measures we can all take:

  • Don't intentionally feed the deer. Consult "Don't Feed the Deer"
  • Never, under any circumstance, approach a deer.
  • Be especially cautious of deer with fawns. Mother deer are very protective of their young.
  • Attacks by bucks are rare, but bucks may become aggressive in "rut" season - October through December.
  • If you do see a deer, observe it from a distance, preferably from inside a structure or vehicle.
  • Keep your pet inside when there is a deer in your yard.
  • Invest in a fenceĀ See "What Can You Do?"

Don't Disturb Fawns!

Sometimes people call animal agencies and wildlife rehabilitators about lone fawns they find in woods, fields and backyards. They assume these fawns have been orphaned. In the vast majority of cases, the fawns have not been abandoned -- usually the mother is nearby, aware and attentive. Except when feeding them, mothers hide their young to avoid attracting predators.

It is perfectly natural in the spring to come across a deer fawn by herself in the woods. If you find a fawn like this, leave her alone knowing that a concerned and anxious mother is nearby and will take care of her once you leave.