September 19, 2019

Gaining Understanding of Deer Habits…And Then Forgetting Them

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I would suppose an “attaboy!” is in order for a Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) biologist from Northern Maine who tells some truth about why locations throughout Maine are finding deer in places they don’t “normally” spend their winters.

I put the word “normally” in quotations because it forces (or should) the question of what is normal? I’m not sure I can answer that in any other terms than to say it is what I think it should be. Perhaps none of us live long enough and are “expert” on deer biology to grasp an understanding of normal beyond only the period of time we are interested in the subject and what history books (often better relegated to the Fiction aisles and shelves in libraries) tell us about what is “normal” behavior for deer.

In our short life span, we have been indoctrinated (both citizen and biologist) to believe that it is “normal” behavior for deer to spend winters cooped-up in a classic, ideal, “deer wintering area,” known once to Mainers as a deer yard. This same indoctrination machine tended to cast dishonest claims about how deer, without those ideal deer wintering areas, shrivel up and die.

God only knows that this negative destruction can happen but does it happen at the rate scientismic biologists believe it does?

To believe such scientismic clap-trap is to say that deer, or any other wild creature, is mostly incapable of making adjustments to their habits in order to survive. I would claim that animals are more adept at this action/reaction than most humans.

Throughout Maine this winter, mostly toward the latter stages of a very snowy winter in many regions across the state, reports are surfacing of people finding pockets of deer (some in quite large numbers) hanging out in neighborhoods or right in the midst of down town. Why are the deer doing this?

I have written for years that I was finding deer in the throes of winter in places deemed as not “normal.” I guess normal is changing. Are the biologists though?

I doubt they are or at least not quickly enough to adjust their own habits to meet the management needs of the down town deer herds.

In Northern Maine, one biologist recognizes the reality – something that appears to have taken many years to admit: “Wildlife Biologist Shawn Haskell says between starvation, predators like coyotes and an occasional lynx, as well as competing with moose for food, it’s a struggle for deer in the wild. That’s why over time they’ve transitioned to more residential areas in colder months.”

Let’s point out the admissions often never spoken of in certain circles. First there’s the admission that coyotes kill deer; in winter; in deer yards. Aside from an “occasional lynx” perhaps the “occasional” bobcat was overlooked. And, lo and behold, the first time I’ve seen in writing that a Maine wildlife biologist is admitting that moose and deer compete for the same winter food. Thus, as honest logic would dictate, more moose hogging the food has a negative and detrimental affect on the deer herd. Too many moose, less deer. Too many moose, more winter ticks, fewer moose, more deer.

But the biggest admission of all is that the deer are adjusting and finding winter comfort (relative term) in places that, due to a more shy behavior of coyotes, Canada lynx, and bobcats, these predators might fear to tread. This is, as explained by the MDIFW biologist, one of the reasons we are seeing deer in places that are considered not “normal.”

So, “normal” is changing…it has changed. It isn’t “normal” anymore. Or, normal is not consistent. While it may be ideal in our brainwashing of “normal” things to see deer in those Hotel Hilton sort of deer yards, it ain’t gonna happen anymore. Things they are a changin’!

And they will continue to change. Yes, we should do what is reasonable to protect those “normal” deer yards. No, I’m not suggesting we “take em by force.” That’s not reasonable in my book, nor is it “normal.”

The Maine biologist alludes to a couple things we should take note of and I think there might be a lesson to be learned as well. The biologist says that the deer that are wintering in down town, “…have not forgotten where they came from.” Or, maybe they have. If “normal” is not their “normal” anymore, even if that “normal” disappeared forever due to forest management practices, a new normal will be achieved and lagging behind will be the education (indoctrination, if and when it fits another agenda) of citizens and wildlife biologists that deer ain’t where they used to be. (This is currently being blamed on Global Warming.)

Also alluded to about the changing habits of deer was, “…a situation that just works for them now.” I’m glad that the biologist recognizes the “for now” aspect of this event. Perhaps one day the deer will return to the Hotel Hilton’s winter resort of ideal “old growth” dense forests for protection from the elements. Or maybe they won’t. It’s what works. The deer will adjust but will the biologist?

Another issue not mentioned here which is mandatory in any honest conversation about deer management and predator control. We finally have the admission that coyotes kill deer. We are witnessing the deer making adjustments for their own survival by going places the coyotes, lynx, and bobcats might shy away from…FOR NOW!

If you know anything about wild canine behavior, you’ll have to admit that if deer decide that “normal” is in your back yard, the predators will overcome their fear and will dare tread on the winter habitats regardless of where they are. Predators are mostly driven by hunger. Fear of humans and our habitat is but a temporary roadblock.

How long will it be before bringing the wildlife into our towns, mostly due to predator protection, sets off a firestorm about public safety and that something needs to be done about it?

If things don’t change from current perverse perspectives on animal idolatry, when this day arrives, look for the call to go out to kill the deer (and waste the food) so that the wild dogs can have their way.

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