The term deer is an umbrella for more than just one type of animal. While the white-tailed deer comes to mind when talking about deer, red deer, elk, roe deer, moose, and fallow deer fall under the category.
Deer are one of the most docile animals in the wild and have many predators that hunt them right from fawns to adulthood. At least ten major deer predators kill and eat deer regularly, and you will discover them in this piece.
What Are Deer Predators?
Deer predators are mostly wild animals that actively and occasionally kill deer as food. The natural predators are those that hunt, kill and eat deer, whether they are fawns or adults. The major deer predators include wild dogs, humans, and Vultures. More on deer predators will be discussed in the next sections.
Major Deer Predators
Deer are one of the few wild animals that only serve as prey and do not predate smaller animals. Strictly herbivores, deer do not kill other animals for sustenance. The major predators of deer are:
Bears kill and eat large deer in woodland areas and are one of the deer’s primary predators.
Deer tops the list of coyotes’ prey. While coyotes are smaller than deer, they usually join forces against a single whitetail to kill it. Coyotes also attack other types of deer.
Wolves actively hunt deer both day and night and are one of the deer’s primary predators. During a hunt, a pack of wolves encircles a huge deer and kills it. A single wolf occasionally kills fawns or weakened adult deer.
Cougars kill and ambush deer irrespective of their size. The mountain lion eats elk, white-tailed deer, bull moose, and mule deer.
Jaguars rarely get to eat deer as they do not share the same habitat for the most part. However, whenever deer are available in a jaguar habitat, the latter has a field day hunting and killing them.
Eagles feast on fawns. They often pick out younger deer mid-air and steal them before the unaware mother has enough time to react.
Leopards are active deer hunters, creeping on family groups at night to kill them. Being good climbers, leopards also jump on deer from trees, taking them unawares.
Wild dogs only have the barbary stag, a red deer subspecies, to hunt in their habitat. One of the best hunters in Africa, wild dogs often outrun stags and kill them for food.
Humans are deer’s biggest predators, killing them for food and sport. Yearly, at least 6 million whitetail deer are killed, leading to the decline of deer in urban areas.
Vultures are always on hand to eat the carcasses of deer whenever they can find them. Vultures clean up anything left of a deer after the main predator has had its full. They sometimes chase off some predators to lay claim to the deer carcass.
How Do Deers Defend Themselves?
Deer often run from predators and barely ever stand their ground. However, as a last resort, male deer will use their antlers as a weapon. Most deer also use their hoof to deal kicks and can escape from predators if they can connect a good blow.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Orcas Eat Deer?
A scenario of orca eating deer is extremely low as both mammals do not share the same habitat. Orcas will only eat deer if they are fed deer meat by humans.
Do Lions Eat Deer?
Yes. Lions do eat deer. If it is an elk, the lioness will outrun and hunt it down before attacking it from different directions. Lions are apex predators that eat all kinds of deer if they can find them.
Do Bobcats Eat Deer?
Bobcats sometimes kill deer and eat them. They do not target big deer as those are difficult to subdue. They instead go for fawns and only ever do so when preferred foods are scarce.
Do Alligators Eat Deer?
Alligators are ambush specialists. They use the ‘wait before attack’ technique to catch and kill unsuspecting deer drinking from rivers or crossing past a river.
Do Coyotes Eat Deer?
Coyotes eat deer as fawns and adults. If it is a fawn, a single coyote will kill and eat it. For an adult deer, multiple coyotes will encircle it and kill it. Coyotes eat more deer than any other animal.
Do Bears Eat Deer?
While bears mostly eat fruits, they also eat deer. In fact, bears prefer to eat deer than any other animal and actively hunt them. A bear can feed on a deer carcass for several days.
Do Raccoons Eat Deer?
Raccoons will not give up an opportunity to kill a fawn if they find it. They cannot kill adult deer and only get to eat them if they are already dead. Deer are not the primary choices for Raccoons.
Do Foxes Eat Deer?
Foxes can kill and eat fawns but often prefer other food. They will not attack a full-grown deer because they are too small and cannot subdue the bigger animal.
Do Hawks Eat Deer?
Hawks sometimes steal fawns from their mother and kill them for food. While deer are not the primary food for hawks, the huge bird sometimes targets them when they are easier to get.