Friday, October 10, 2008

Why Do The Deer Keep Coming Back?

I've seen deer in my backyard three times in the last month. I'm sure they've been here more times when I wasn't watching. I didn't really see them at all during the summer, but last spring I saw them once. That's quite a while between visits. I wanted to find out what was bringing them back now, after being gone for a whole season.

One thing I need to explain is that I don't live out in the country, where you would expect to see wild animals. I live in a suburb of Detroit. It's a pretty populated and busy area. We do have a lot of forest area here, and plenty of places for them to hide. The pictures I've shown on this blog so far, have been taken very close by. The pictures in this post are from my backyard just a few days ago.

I've explained before that I've seen several different wild animals back there recently. Some, like the deer, that you wouldn't expect in a populated area like mine. I've seen in the news in the last several years that as urban areas expand, the animal population loses it's natural habitat. There are only two alternatives for them. The first is for them to just die out. I'm sure they don't want that one. The second is to adapt to the new environment.

That second reason is part of what I've been seeing with these deer. Last spring I saw a deer running across some people's front yards. I remember thinking at the time, what a sad thing I was seeing. I remind you this is a suburb. Those houses were close together.

Recently the police have had to step in to do things to reduce the local deer population. Too many deer in this area means that they will be running out in the roads. It's inevitable that some will be hit by cars. My sister hit two of them this year. The chances of a person in Michigan hitting a deer with their car in the next year is 1 in 78. Michigan is second only to West Virginia, where the chances are 1 in 45. These chances are even greater in October, November, and December. Why?

Well, these three months, beginning with October, are the migrating and mating season for deer, known as "the rut". The deer obviously will be on the move. Here in Michigan there are Deer Crossing signs posted anywhere there is a larger deer population. I'm sure it's the same for other states. In my area there are a lot of these signs. If you see one, try to bit a bit more careful than usual. It might save the deer and you.

An onset of bad weather can cause deer to begin moving, just as a human would run for cover. We've had a lot of rain lately. After that rain is when the deer usually appear. During a heavy rain they will be somewhere under cover. But in a light rain or mist, they will come out, probably because they are uncomfortable.

Now as you would imagine, these deer are hungry, and have to eat something. As most anyone who has heard of deer knows, they eat vegetation. That's where my backyard comes into all of this. I said before that there are plenty of forest areas around me. As you can see in my pictures, there is a forest right behind me. That's the source of my returning deer.

When I saw this deer, it was part of a group of three. They were all grazing at the edge of the forest. They appeared to be trying out the grass and the bushes back there. Those must be pretty tasty to a deer, because they always come back. Mine seem to be the same ones in the last year.

In summary, it seems to be a combination of over population, loss of natural environment, and their migrating and mating season. My backyard specifically seems to be a good place for them to pause on their journey. It has a good food source, and a good place to hide and rest.

So there you go. That's why the deer keep coming back.

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