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Ohio State Animal

White-tailed Deer Odocoileus virginianus Adopted: 1988
Ohio state animal
Ohio State Animal: White-tailed Deer Male (Buck)
Photographs and prints

Long before European settlers came to North America, white-tailed dear were playing an intrinsic role in the lives of the people who lived in areas that were to become the State of Ohio in 1803.

White-tailed deer played a very important role in the lives of virtually all of the prehistoric Indian cultures. Deer meat provided food, deer hides were used for clothing, and bones and antlers were used for tools.

Hides, bones, and antlers also played roles in the ritual and ceremony of prehistoric American culture.

Ohio state animal
Ohio State Animal: White-tailed Deer (Fawns)
Photographs and prints

As the Ice Age ended, white-tailed deer herds migrated north behind the receding glacier. They continued to serve as an important food source for Native Americans living throughout the area and continued to provide the raw materials of clothing and tools.

As European settlers moved into the Ohio River valley and northward, they found the abundant white-tailed deer herds valuable as well. Europeans placed a high premium on deer hides and used them in barter and trade.

As more and more people moved into Ohio, deer populations began to dwindle.

In 1857, in an effort to save the diminishing populations of white-tailed deer, the Ohio State Government was forced to impose hunting restrictions. These restrictions continued through the latter half of the 1800s, but were not particularly effective. Between 1897 and 1899, hunting seasons were cancelled altogether and by 1904 the white-tailed deer could not be found in Ohio.

Ohio state animal
Ohio State Animal: White-tailed Deer Female (Doe)
Photographs and prints

In response to the decimation, Ohio initiated limited restocking programs during the 1920s and the 1930s. These programs, hunting bans, and natural migration from other states resulted in growing herds in the state and by 1937 some white-tailed deer were reported in about 1/3 of Ohio's counties.

By 1943, white-tailed deer populations had reached a state where highly regulated hunting seasons in select counties were allowed.

Memorializing the return of the white-tailed deer to Ohio, the General Assembly adopted, and Governor Richard F. Celeste signed, legislation designating the white-tailed deer as "the official animal of the state" in 1988.

Today, white-tailed deer are present in every Ohio County and hunted across the state.


"State Symbols". Ohio Historical Society: Ohio History Central. 2008. 13 March 2008

"Ohio Revised Code." Ohio General Assembly. 2009. 3 April 2009

Shearer, Benjamin F. and Barbara S. State Names, Seals, Flags and Symbols: A Historical Guide Third Edition, Revised and Expanded. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 3 Sub edition, 2001.

Additional Information

Ohio State Animal
White-tailed deer
Credit: Elizabeth McClelland Mammals of North America
© Princeton University Press

White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus): National Wildlife Foundation's eNature.com field guide.

Odocoileus virginianus - White-tailed deer: Information about white-tailed deer from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History - North American Mammals.

Odocoileus virginianus - White-tailed deer: Information about white-tailed deer from the University of Michigan's Museum of Zoology - Animal Diversity Web.

Odocoileus virginianus (Zimmermann, 1780) - White-tailed deer: Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Here you will find authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.

White-Tailed Deer
White-Tailed Deer
by Mark Raycroft

Odocoileus virginianus (White-tailed deer): CalPhoto photographs. The Biodiversity Sciences Technology group (BSCIT), a part of the Berkeley Natural History Museums at the University of California, Berkeley.

State Animals: Complete list of official state animals.

More symbols & emblems: Complete list of official Ohio state symbols.

White-tailed deer mug

White-Tailed Deer, by Mark Raycroft. 144 pages. Firefly Books (September 1, 1999) As a wildlife biologist, I have been studying white-tailed deer for over a decade. In this time, I have acquired extensive knowledge of the natural history and complex behavioral patterns of this appealing animal. But most of all, I have spent countless hours up close, personally studying and photographing hundreds of these graceful creatures.

White Tailed Deer - Coffee Mug, Microwave safe, FDA approved. Image is printed on both sides of the mug.

Photographs and prints: Photographs, prints, posters of white-tailed deer; bucks, does, and fawns.