T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Deer (White-tail) Odocoileus virginianus borealis

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Cervidae
Subfamily: Capreolinae
Genus: Odocoileus
Species: O. virginianus
Binomial name: Odocoileus virginianus
Subspecies: Odocoileus virginianus borealis (northern white-tailed).
Synonyms: Dama virginiana, Dama virginianus
Common names: Whitetail deer, White-tail deer Virginia deer

The Odocoileus virginianus borealis subspecies is commonly known as the northern white-tailed deer. It is the largest and darkest of the white-tailed deer species. It is native to the north-eastern USA and eastern Canada
They were first introduced to New Zealand at Takaka Valley, Nelson in 1901 but this attempt failed. In 1905, T. E. Donne, when visiting the United States, purchased on behalf of the New Zealand Government 22 Virginia deer. During the journey to New Zealand, three were lost but the remaining 19 arrived in good condition. In 1905 nine were released at Cook’s Arm, Port Pegasus at Steward Island and nine at Lake Wakatipu and west Otago in 1905. The remaining animal, a buck, was liberated in Takaka to supplement the 1901 introduction. 
Nowadays white-tailed deer are only found on Stewart Island, and at a 350 km2 area at the head of Lake Wakatipu which includes the lower sections of the Rees River and Dart River valleys. This is New Zealand's only mainland herd and it is under threat from illegal hunting. Much of the area is a conservation area, where hunting is banned.

White-tailed deer are a small to mid-sized deer weighing >54kg. They have a body length >1.6m and a shoulder height >1.2m. Females are slightly smaller. They have a reddish-brown coat in summer changing to grey/brown in winter with a distinct white belly all year-round. Their ears are pointed. They have a long distinctive tail that is white underneath. As a warning to other deer, they flick the tail upright exposing its white underside. The rounded antlers are curved forward and are not branched. Young are born in December and January after a gestation period of approximately seven months. They are good swimmers
White-tailed deer are herbivorous browsers, feeding on leaves and stems of trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses, sedges, herbs and seaweed (Stewart Island). Their browsing can alter the vegetation composition and regeneration of certain species.


Distribution map of the White-tail deer (Red areas)


Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/