What Eats Deer? (predators)

Natural Predators of Deer

Since deer species are found all over the world and in different types of climates, they have quite a wide range of natural predators.

However, there are some animals that tend to prey on deer more than others, which we’ve listed below.

  • Wolves,
  • Coyotes,
  • Bears,
  • Wild Cats,
  • Killer Whales, and
  • Alligators.

This is not an exhaustive list, and there are plenty of other animals that have been known to prey on deer, such as wolverines and eagles.

List of Deer Predators Around the World

As we mentioned, some of the most common animals that prey on and eat deer include:

  • Wolves,
  • Coyotes,
  • Bears,
  • Wild Cats,
  • Killer Whales, and
  • Alligators.

And of course, human hunters kill a number of deer around the world every year.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these natural predators of deer below.


Aside from humans, wolves are the deer’s main predators. Wolves live all over the world and are fast, traveling in packs by night.

Though they are smaller than deer, deer don’t have much of a chance in a fight against a pack of wolves unless they are extremely fast.


Coyotes hunt deer in a way similar to wolves, except they are sneakier than wolves and tend to target smaller deer since a smaller deer is easier prey.

Since coyotes are smaller and slower than wolves, they have to sneak around more as opposed to relying on their speed.


Bears easily outsize deer, making them a fairly easy target. However, bears won’t necessarily seek out and hunt or attack the deer.

Though they do hunt and kill deer themselves sometimes, generally they would prefer instead to feed on the leftovers from animals such as wolves, dispersing the pack after they make a kill to steal their prey.

Wild Cats

Wild cats such as jaguars and mountain lions prey on deer on a regular basis, and some mountain lions will eat as many as one deer per week.

Unlike wolves and coyotes, wild cats rarely travel in packs and will hunt and consume the deer on their own, using stealth and speed to their advantage.

Killer Whales

This may seem a bit surprising, but in far northern areas such as Alaska and Canada, killer whales and on occasion even sharks have been known to prey on species of deer such as moose or reindeer while they are swimming.

Some of these larger deer swim with regularity to escape bugs, or to reach islands or other coastal areas with their favorite foods.


Alligators kill more deer than you would think, preying on deer when they come to the edge of a river to drink.

In swampy areas, they are the deer’s main predator, relying on their stealth to ambush their prey.

The Deer’s Place in the Food Web

All animals play an important role in the ecosystem, and since deer are found all around the world, their importance is vital for the environment on a global and local scale.

Final Thoughts About the Predators that Eat Deer

There is no single answer to the question, “What eats deer?” Many different kinds of animals prey on deer, so the answer depends on the location and type of deer.

However, the primary killer of deer worldwide is humans, followed by wild dogs such as wolves and coyotes.


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