January 21, 2021
Winter Deer Survey Results & Deer Harvest Program
Kiawah’s declining bobcat numbers have allowed the island’s deer population to rise quickly. Since 1997, Town Biologists have monitored Kiawah’s deer population by conducting biannual spotlight surveys. Survey data from each set of surveys are averaged together to calculate the annual estimate of deer density, expressed as deer per square mile. Town biologists recently completed the winter deer survey (January 18-19) and the 2020 deer density is 123 deer per square mile, equating to approximately 900 deer on the island. This is the highest deer density on record for Kiawah Island. See chart. Recent surveys have shown an increase in fawn survival and an overall increase in the island’s deer population by 75% in the last three years.
In response to the increasing deer numbers and deer-related traffic accidents, last year Town Council approved the implementation of a deer harvest program. In February, under a State permit that expires in March, Town Biologists will be conducting a deer harvest throughout the island, focusing on areas with the highest deer concentrations and highest number of deer-vehicle collisions. Work will be performed during nighttime hours using suppressed weapons. The program’s goal is to reduce the deer population by 100 deer. The Town will donate the harvested deer meat to the local homeless shelter, One80 Place.