On Vancouver Island, according to the B.C. Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks there are 150,000 to 250,000 Columbian Black-tailed deer. These deer are identified by their large mule-like ears, a white rump and an all-black tail.
The population of Columbian Black-tailed deer (subspecies of the mule deer) fluctuates based on a variety of reasons. This Discover Vancouver Island website contains interesting facts about Black-Tailed Deer from general habits and mating, to their life cycle and food choices. https://www.discovervancouverisland.com/wildlife-on-vancouver-island/black-tailed-deer/
An informal consensus with friends typically divides people’s opinions on our Black-Tailed Deer population into 3 categories: hunters (fresh wild venison), gardeners (annoyed by the foliage consumed by deer), and nature lovers (adore watching the deer and encourage their presence).
I must confess, our household has evolved into a combination of the 3 categories. Although we do not hunt, a gift of lean wild venison is a delicacy we greatly appreciate.
Our backyard is fully fenced in order to keep the deer out. They quickly consume fresh veggies, flowers, and new growth on plants. However, our front yard is free territory for deer to graze and wander or relax.
As the seasons rotate, we find ourselves curious about the upcoming new fawns and look forward to observing the deer family behaviors and interactions.
At present… It is November (Autumn in Canada). To our Black-Tailed deer this means it is rutting/mating season! We can hear the Bucks (males) crashing their antlers together as they fight to establish dominance!
We observe the Does (females) pushing away their 1 1/2 year old sons. It’s time to leave mom’s company and become independent. The does will be in heat soon and inbreeding is not encouraged!
By late October … Spike was not included when momma doe and this year’s fawn wandered through our yard to munch on newly fallen leaves and grass. The fawn seemed to enjoy resting on top of the autumn leaves.
Dominant bucks suddenly appear during daylight hours to mate and chase does. The bucks remain by the doe’s side for several days while she is in heat.
Reflecting back to September and October, the deer family units were still intact in our neighborhood. Momma doe had been injured on her back leg and she continues to lick the wound regularly and struggle to walk. This year’s fawn is usually close beside her and rarely wanders out of her sight. Last year’s fawn has grown into a healthy young buck and is now sprouting spikes on his forehead!
Our cat, Sophia, continues to be fascinated by the deer family–mainly the youngest fawn. They watch each other from a distance, and naughty Sophia even sits on the roof of the vehicles to increase her safety and view.
Sophia watching the action from a distance!
Once a doe falls pregnant, the gestation period is nearly 7 months long.
During the winter the deer cope with the colder temperatures by hiding under foliage and growing thick coats.
Last March a momma doe and her twin fawns popped by to graze in our yard.
The majority of fawns are born during May/June in our area. Twins are common, but young does sometimes only produce one fawn.
On Vancouver Island, the major predators for black-tailed deer are: humans, wolves, cougars, and occasionally Black or Grizzly bears. Lynxes and wolverines are additional threats on the coastal mainland of British Columbia, but do not exist on Vancouver Island.
A new threat is making the news in the past year. AHD (Adenovirus Hemorrhagic Disease), is a contagious virus killing black-tailed deer on Vancouver Island and the surrounding Gulf Islands in B.C.
Apparently, the disease is only found in deer populations and spreads mainly through nose-to-nose contact. Information is accumulating about AHD on many veterinarian and hunting websites.
Here is a September 30th 2021 Chek TV News article about this disease . https://www.cheknews.ca/deadly-virus-killing-hundreds-of-deer-is-spreading-on-vancouver-island-891862/
We are entranced by our urban black-tailed deer families and look forward to observing visits each day. Keep safe and keep healthy my cervidae friends. Winter is coming!
Upcoming posts will be about antics of Sophia and more hiking adventures on Vancouver Island.
Keep Safe and Keep Optimistic. S