Habitat and Protection
White-tailed deer are naturally found in South Dakota. Within the city, they generally live in wooded areas near water. Deer do well in the city because they have no predators and they have plenty of food. Deer feed on many types of plants, many of which are garden or landscaping plants. Some deer live in Sioux Falls throughout the year, and some migrate into the city during the winter after the crops have been harvested. An adult doe (mother deer) usually has two fawns every year if she has adequate food and water. Deer are a game animal in South Dakota so they are managed by the jurisdiction of the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.
Damage and Ways to Discourage Deer
If you have deer in your yard, it is probably because it provides them with food and/or shelter. To discourage deer from being in your yard you need to remove the food and/or shelter or prevent the deer from accessing them.
- Fence them out. The best way to keep deer from your garden or from eating your plants is to use fencing to prevent them from accessing the plants.
- Scare them. Deer get used to people if they are never threatened by them. Deer can be spooked by loud noises, flashy objects, and streamers. Chemical repellents are sold in hardware stores and there are ideas on the internet for homemade recipes.
- Don't feed them. It is against the law to feed deer in Sioux Falls. Feeding deer congregates them in one area which leads to the spread of disease and potential for property damage on your property or that of your neighbors.
- Drive carefully. Over 100 deer get hit and killed by vehicles within City limits each year. Deer are more active in the morning and the evening, so take extra caution at those times. Deer move around more in the spring (March through May) and in the fall (October and November). Deer crossing signs have been placed in several places throughout the city where multiple accidents have occurred due to deer.
- Leave them be. If you see a fawn in your yard, it is likely not abandoned. Mother deer spend most of their day searching for food, and only return to nurse the fawn a few times a day. Fawns are not able to move quickly so their best defense is to lay still until mother comes back for them. A mother deer may see you as a danger, and may not return if you are in the area or if you have left your scent on the fawn. If you care - leave it there.
- Manage them. Animal Control, in conjunction with the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks is working to manage the deer population in Sioux Falls. A Deer Management Plan was completed in 2014, and components of this plan include monitoring deer populations, taking public comment and documenting public complaints, enforcing the deer feeding ban, and population reduction. The deer population is being controlled through limited archery hunting and deer removals by Animal Control.