The restoration of white-tailed deer to Georgia is one of the great success stories in wildlife management, according to Professor George Gallagher, chairman of the Animal Science Department at Berry College.

Gallagher said that 115 years ago, hunting depleted the deer population to an estimated 5,000 animals. By 2015, the number was closer to 1.2 million.

Speaking to the Seven Hills Rotary Club on Tuesday, Gallagher also tried to dispel some common misconceptions about the deer herd at the college.    (Doug Walker-Rome News Tribune)

First, the professor said, there aren’t as many deer at Berry as people imagine. Aside from the fawning season, which is coming up in a couple of weeks, the general ratio is 0.7 deer per student. In the spring fawning season, that goes up to about 2.1 deer per student.
“We’re not really overpopulated,” Gallagher said. “But we do have a lot of them and they are readily observable.”
Gallagher also explained that the Berry deer are not unusually scrawny or malnourished. He said the clay and acidic limestone soil across north Georgia is not really well suited for the vegetation deer thrive on.
When it comes to trying to find a backyard plan that deer won’t eat, Gallagher said he doesn’t think one exists. During various studies with plant species, students even put out nylon flowers and greenery. He said the deer got into the fake flora and left it in shreds.
One of the reasons the deer congregate in open areas is that they are not well suited for a forest environment.
“They are an edge species,” Gallagher said. “You see them along the edge of the woods.”