The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources notes that Chinese water deer are threatened by poaching and destruction of their natural habitats. Chinese water deer are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, one classification better than endangered. This species does not respond well to environmental changes, which are ongoing and seemingly out of control, resulting in a projected 30 percent population loss over 18 years.
According to Wildscreen Arkive, Chinese water deer prefer an environment with small trees, shrubs and a local water supply, such as a marshland, river, stream, swamp or coastal plain. The Chinese water deer population in China is being carefully studied in the Poyang Lake and Yancheng Nature Reserves, though the deer continue to dwindle in numbers. The deer's population in Korea is less well-known though it is believed to still be dwindling due to poaching and lack of a safe habitat. Chinese water deer have been introduced into the United Kingdom and France. The introduced population in the United Kingdom potentially represents 10 percent of the global population. The source notes that Chinese water deer are hunted by farmers as pests and for their venison meat. The partially digested milk in the stomachs of young, unweaned fawns is also sought after for use in traditional Chinese medicines.