3. Biologists can figure out the age of a deer by...
b. Giving them a dental exam.
It sounds silly, but deer are actually aged by checking their teeth. A trained biologist looks at both the type of teeth the deer has as well as how worn they are. Deer have a set of baby teeth just like we do. They are born with four teeth and within a few months develop baby incisors and premolars. By the time they are about 18-months old, permanent teeth will have replaced the baby teeth. An adult has six incisors and two canines in the lower front, six premolars and six molars in the lower back and the same in the upper back. A quick glance at the premolars tells a biologist whether the animal is a fawn, young deer or an adult.
After all of the whitetail's permanent teeth have come in, biologists look for the amount of wear on the molars, which lose about 1 millimeter of height each year. The height of the tooth above the gum line on all three molars is used to determine deer age.
During the deer hunting season, hunters who harvest a deer must bring the animal to a station to register it with the Department of Natural Resources. Wildlife biologists at the registration stations randomly check the teeth of deer in order to better understand the ages of deer and deer herds in that part of the state. They then gather all of the aging information from around the state to help calculate the deer population across Wisconsin.
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Learn more about the white-tailed deer.