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Found in nearly every state in the U.S., as well as throughout Canada and Mexico, white-tailed deer populations are at an all-time high. An estimated 30 million white-tailed deer roam the country alongside sizable populations of other deer species, such as black and mule deer. They are valuable game animals and hunters target them for their meat, hides, and for sport. Even so, many states estimate the damage they do to crops and agriculture in the tens of millions of dollars. Large deer populations create additional problems in some areas by causing dangerous car crashes and harming the balance of ecosystems.
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White-tailed deer are large, hoofed mammals with reddish-brown or grayish-brown coats, white bellies, and white fur under their short tails. In the springtime, male deer, known as bucks, grow a pair of pointed antlers that are used for defense and mating displays. The animals have long snouts tipped with black noses and large ears that help them stay alert for any signs of predators. Baby deer, known as fawns, are camouflaged with white spots to help them blend into the ground, where they lay motionless until their mothers return given any threat.
Favorite foods of white-tailed deer include leaves, stems, and buds of trees and saplings. They also readily eat fruits, vegetables, grains, ornamental plants, and nuts. In winter, they eat the bark from trees if other food sources are scarce.
Instead of living in dense thickets, deer prefer the thin edges of forests and young woodlands with easy access to food. Open agricultural areas interspersed with woodlots, as well as wooded suburban areas, also make excellent habitats for deer. In suburban areas where hunting is banned, deer populations can quickly grow to unsustainable numbers. During winter or in adverse weather, deer seek the shelter of dense vegetation.