Keywords: management, white-tailed deer; Grade Level: ninth grade; Total Time Required: one 90-minute class period; Setting: classroom/computer classroom

Materials Needed

  • dice
  • graph paper
  • reproduction cards
  • condition cards
  • management cards

Concepts to Be Covered

  • Impact of white-tailed deer in PA
  • Role of humans in managing a deer herd

Objectives of the Lesson

  • Describe the typical white-tailed deer in PA.
  • Discuss the positive and negative impacts that white-tail deer have on the flora and fauna of PA.
  • Explain the concept of managing a deer herd.
  • Describe how abiotic and biotic factors can affect the size of a deer herd.
  • Graph the result of the "Managing your Deer Herd" activity.
  • Compare your results with your team and explain the differences observed.
  • Answer the questions at the end of the activity.


  • A brief presentation of white-tailed deer in PA will initiate this lesson including size, numbers, reproductive tendencies, food and habitat needs, problems associated with the deer, and the benefits presented by the presence of deer in PA.
  • Additional information will be presented concerning wildlife management. The following paragraphs will be "spirit-read" by the students (students will read when the spirit moves them; it does work!)
  • Wildlife managers attempt to maintain healthy populations of wild animals while factors--both avoidable and unavoidable--affect the populations. Some of these factors are loss of habitat, weather conditions, pollution of food and water resources, development of other natural resources, poaching, and recreation pressure. Many people are unaware of how such pressures can affect wildlife. In the United States, it is the legal responsibility of state wildlife agencies to manage the wildlife populations within their respective states. It is the legal responsibility of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under the U.S. Department of the Interior, to govern some policies and programs affecting migratory species of animals (principally birds) and threatened or endangered species, as well as illegal importation of all species, with additional responsibilities related to the overall well-being of U.S. wildlife.
  • Wildlife management is based on the best scientific and technical knowledge available. Such knowledge is growing; however, it is still limited and is continually affected by changes in the complex relationships between wildlife, human beings, and their shared environments.
  • In a sense, everyone shares responsibility for wildlife management. Although there are legally responsible agencies, their work requires the thoughtful and informed cooperation of citizens. There are frequently differences of opinion about the most appropriate policies and programs affecting wildlife. Individual citizens, private conservation groups, and others all make important contributions to the overall conservation and protection of wildlife and its habitat.
  • In this activity you will be assuming a role of a wildlife manager and hypothetically gain some insight into some of the complex variables that influence stewardship of wildlife.


  1. The students will label their paper in the following manner:

    YEAR 1: Spring Summer Fall Winter

    YEAR 2: Spring Summer Fall Winter

(Continue in this manner until nine years are completed.)

  1. You are the manager of a deer population. The carrying capacity of the habitat is 100 animals. The point of the activity is to end up with a viable population after 9 years. If at any time your population reaches less than 10 or more than 200 individuals, you no longer have a viable "herd" and will watch the other students until the conclusion of the activity.
  2. You have a beginning population of 100 animals. The cards are separated into three decks of a total of 36 cards; a condition deck (18 cards), a reproduction deck (9 cards), and a management deck (9 cards.) The cards are shuffled within each deck. Cards will be drawn in the following sequence: condition card, reproduction card, condition card, management card, condition card, reproduction card, and so forth. As each card is drawn, it is read aloud to the entire class. You will roll your die and follow the instructions on the card to determine your herd population's new size.
  3. The results will be graphed.

Explanation of Cards Using Examples

Condition Cards

  1. A fire has roared through the forest, resulting in a critical toss of habitat for the herd. Decrease herd by the number equal to five times your roll.
  2. Disease has struck you herd. Decrease herd equal to one roll.
  3. A good water supply has contributed to lush browse and has had a dramatic impact on the survival of your herd. Increase your herd by five times your roll. Your must create 18 condition cards (12 are decreased and 6 are increased).

Management Cards

  1. One-hundred acres of the forest has been clearcut for a housing subdivision, altering critical habitat. Decrease your herd by three times your role.
  2. Habitat acquisition has increased the area of available and suitable habitat. Increase herd by five times your roll.
  3. Scientific research has been successfully accomplished concerning the reproductive capabilities of the herd. Increase or decrease (students choose which one before rolling the die) the herd by two times your roll. You must create nine management cards.

Reproduction Cards

  1. Create three excellent years where the increase is five times the roll and six average years where the increase is three times the roll.


  1. Identify and describe what appeared to be the impacts of the condition, management and reproduction cards.
  2. Did populations "managed" under different strategies by different students show different trends? How do these compare? Would you "manage" differently if give a second chance?
  3. What aspects of this activity seemed realistic? Which didn't?
  4. What are examples of ways that habitat can be improved? Short term? Long term?
  5. Is human management of wildlife populations necessary? Beneficial? Why of why not? For people? For animals?
  6. Name four factors that can affect the size of wildlife populations.
  7. Some wildlife managers have said that wildlife management involves more management of people than of wildlife. Explain what they might mean by the comment.


  • Execution of graphs.
  • Evaluation of the concluding questions.


Barbara Neuburger, General McKlain High School