PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (Jan. 27, 2023) — Anyone who has ever spent time on the Presidio of Monterey knows the installation has a significant population of deer. Those who have wondered how many there are can look forward to receiving an answer.
The black-tailed deer on the Presidio are a subspecies known as Columbian black-tailed deer, and U.S. Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey officials have hired contractors to conduct surveys of the installation’s population, said Julia Parish, natural resource manager for the PoM Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division.
The idea is to gain knowledge on how to manage the deer and their habitat for the safety of community members and to gauge their impact on the endangered plant species of Yadon’s piperia, Parish said. The surveys began Jan. 26 at midday and an hour after sunset, with a vehicle driving at speeds of between 5 and 10 mph on the Presidio’s main roads. At night, personnel used high-lumen spotlights to see the ungulates.
In about one hour, after covering about half of the Presidio, the team of four counted more than 70 deer, Parish said. “That’s been really exciting,” she said.
This is the installation’s first deer survey, Parish said. Officials plan to hold two more later this year and hope to repeat the process for another four years.
“That’s how you can get a baseline understanding and statistically significant understanding of your population,” Parish said. “It takes about five years.”
Parish said she hopes to have this year’s results in August or September.
In terms of safety, Parish said officials want to understand the population size and where the deer are eating to understand what kind of human interactions may be occurring on the Presidio.
“I know one of my concerns just driving around the Presidio is potential car strikes, especially with fawns,” Parish said. Fawns are often less aware of their surroundings and potential dangers.
This year, due to the recent rain and increase in food for the deer, it is likely there will be more fawns than usual when they are born in the spring, Parish said. The mating season, also called the rutting season, takes place in November and December and the gestation period lasts between six and seven months.
Officials also want to know if the deer population is increasing and possibly impacting Yadon’s piperia, which is a type of endangered orchid, Parish said. A photo of the plant accompanies this story, and people should be on the lookout for it and avoid going near it.
If the surveys determine the deer population is harming plants or causing safety problems, installation officials will work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to develop a management plan, Parish said.
Officials could decide to erect fencing to keep deer out of certain areas, Parish said. Or, if human safety is an issue, personnel could plant deer-resistant landscaping throughout the Presidio’s housing areas to prevent deer from congregating near parking lots and busy roads.
Options to manage the deer population would be nonlethal, Parish said.
In addition to the surveys, Parish said it is important for residents and personnel on the Presidio to take safety precautions around deer.
It is important that humans keep their distance from deer, especially fawns, because they can be dangerous if they feel threatened, Parish said. People should not leave small children or pets outside unattended.
Also, people should give deer plenty of room to maneuver away, Parish said. They should maintain a minimum distance of 250 feet (approximately one city block) between themselves and any pets, and the deer.
Also, if a deer approaches, do not run, Parish said. Instead make noise, wave your arms, and back away slowly.
People should also keep their dogs away from deer and provide enclosures for outdoor pets, Parish said. “Dogs can spook wildlife and that can cause negative interaction in various ways,” she said.
It is particularly important that those who live on the Presidio do not feed the deer human food, Parish said.
“Feeding deer human food actually causes them to slowly starve to death or make them really sick,” Parish said. “If you have a garden, enclose it to prevent deer from coming into your yard.”
Never feed or attempt to “tame” a wild or feral animal, Parish said. USAG PoM Command Policy 27 prohibits it, and it could be punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Another issue this year will also be a likely increase in the number of ticks on post because ticks often attach themselves to deer, Parish said. It is important that community members keep that in mind and take precautions against ticks.
For more information contact Parish at (831) 242-6736.