Can bears displace deer from an area?

By Grant Woods,

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Hello Dr. Grant, Adam, Family, and Interns,
I live in the mountains of Western NC. I have seen (on trail camera pictures) this year and last, an increase in the number of bears and a decrease in the number of deer on one of the properties my family and I hunt. Are the deer avoiding the area because of the bears?

Background Information:
2 years ago we had pictures of approximately 8-12 different deer and maybe 1 or 2 pictures of bears all season( i think of the same bear). Last year throughout the hunting season we had regular pictures of 2 boar bears, a female with 2 cubs, and 1 adolescent bear. Last year also showed a slight decrease in the frequency of deer pictures and I don’t have an accurate count on how many different deer we had pictures of but I can estimate it to be about 8-10. This year (I know it is early but I have only seen pictures of 2 does (each with 1 fawn) and 2 bucks for a total of 6 deer. Bear numbers are exploding. Daily pictures of bears include: 1 big boar, 2 females, one with 2 cubs and one with 4 cubs, and 1 adolescent. This is a minimum of 10 bears total, maybe more.

Thanks in advance for any help or information you can give. My family and I love your videos for both their educational and entertainment value and we love that you share the Gospel through you work.

Your Fellow Hunter and Brother In Christ,
Brent in Western NC


Thank you for watching GrowingDeer and for sharing the encouraging words!  

I believe the primary determinant of deer activity is survival.  Deer certainly co-exist with bears in many areas.  However, deer often change habits/patterns when a new or increase of predators occurs.  Given the substantial increase the number of bears where you hunt it’s certainly possible that deer in the area have switched to using a different portion of their home range.  

I suggest you don’t use any supplemental feed as bears are very attracted to easy groceries.  If you aren’t feeding then there’s probably not much you can do to discourage the bears from spending so much time where you hunt.  Hopefully some of the bears will move on soon!

Enjoy creation!