Blacktail Deer

A blacktail deer and her two calves in a meadow near Hurricane Ridge
A blacktail deer and her twin fawns in a meadow near Hurricane Ridge

Ken and Mary Campbell

Blacktail DeerOdocoileus hemionus columbianus

Blacktail deer may be the park's most graceful mammal. They are much smaller than Roosevelt elk, and may be seen just about anywhere within Olympic National Park, from subalpine forests and meadowlands down to river valleys. Blacktail deer are considered a subspecies of mule deer, which are common throughout much of the West. They are also closely related to the white-tailed deer, well-known throughout the eastern and Midwestern U.S.

Blacktail deer are particularly common on the edges of forests where there is adequate shelter and ample meadowland. They are often spotted grazing in mountain meadows at dawn and dusk. These graceful creatures are prominent members of the wildlife community.

Blacktail deer feed on different types of grasses, lichens, plants, and sometimes berries.

Role in the Ecosystem:
Blacktail deer are herbivores that lie in the middle of the food web. They are telling of the balance in the ecosystem. If there is not enough vegetation, the deer population cannot survive, leaving predators hungry. If there are not enough predators, there may be too many deer, causing over-grazing.

Fun Fact:
There are various subspecies of blacktail deer. In Olympic National Park, there are Columbian blacktail deer, which can get up to 200 pounds (90 kg).

Conservation Status:
Not threatened


Last updated: September 22, 2020

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