Black Tail Deer

Black Tail Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) as seen in our Aquarium Gardens exhibit.

This animal is not part of an Aquarium exhibit, but is rather a native species that lives on or regularly visits the extensive gardens or wooded areas of the property.

Occasionally large mammals join the smaller species for a visit to the Aquarium grounds. These stocky herbivores have been spotted along the edges of the gardens, in our parking lot or wandering next to the nearby estuary. Black Tail Deer are common in the Coastal Mountains which border Newport, but some are also attracted by the Aquarium’s thick foliage and dense forest canopy which closely imitates their natural habitats. These deer are easily identified by their stout bodies with reddish- or grayish-brown fur and a pale throat, belly and nose-patches. One of their most distinctive features, visible on both males and females, is the tri-colored tail with a black upper surface which will flick quickly when the animal becomes nervous or alarmed. 

Because Black Tail Deer are browsers, they tend to wander in small family groups from place to place as they search for green and aquatic plants. Bucks are more solitary but will often winter with does. They are primarily nocturnal, but can be spotted in the early morning hours. Most biologists consider the Black Tail Deer to be a subspecies of the Mule Deer. 

Range & Habitat

Black Tail Deer can be found throughout the western part of the United States, from northern California to southern Alaska. 

Conservation Status

Common.  Black Tail Deer are often found in the same areas as elk and are a favorite game animal with hunters.  They are related to the Columbia White Tail Deer (Odocoileus virginiannus leucurus) which is listed as an Endangered Species in Oregon.