Black-Tailed Deer Facts

Black-tailed deer are a subspecies of mule deer, pictured here.
Black-tailed deer are a subspecies of mule deer, pictured here. (Image: Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Deer, like may other animal species, have multiple subspecies characterized by location, appearance, diet, personality and other traits. The black-tailed deer is an example of a deer subspecies. The animal is visible and widespread in specific locations. Its physical appearance and habitat distinguishes it from other well know deer species in the world.


According to the National History Museum Los Angeles County, the black-tailed deer is classified as one of nine subspecies of the mule deer. Its first recorded observation in habitat was made by the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804 to 1806. The black-tailed deer has two different subspecies: The Columbia black-tailed deer and the Sitka black-tailed deer. The two subspecies occupy different areas within North America.


The black-tailed deer is generally a little smaller than the mule deer. Additionally, both subspecies of the black-tailed deer are distinguishable by their larger tails and their backs, which are covered with black or brown hair. According to Hungry for Hunting, the Sitka black-tailed deer is smaller than Columbia black-tailed deer. The antlers of both black-tailed deer species are evenly forked like the mule deer. However, black-tailed deer only grow a maximum of three tines per side.


Both species of the black-tailed deer are found in the Pacific Northwest, "living in temperate coniferous forests along the Pacific Coast," according to the National History Museum. The Columbia black-tailed deer is primarily located in California, Oregon and British Columbia, while the Sitka deer is primarily found in British Columbia, Washington and Southeast Alaska. The forests that black-tailed deer occupy are characterized by cooler temperatures and a lot of precipitation. Black-tailed deer do not migrate due to seasonal changes, and stay in the same area most of the time.

Additional Facts

Black-tailed deer are herbivores and eat the variety of plants and herbs that are within their habitat. The animal will even eat poison oak without experiencing an allergic reaction. The deer communicate with each over using over 10 vocalizations. When startled, the black-tailed deer, according to International Hunter Education Association, "will run with high, stiff-legged bounce, like mule deer." Common predators of the deer include coyotes, cougars, bears, wolves and golden eagles.

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