WHITETAIL DEER – THE SPECIES
This weekend a great Friend and myself, visited a Cemetery in London Ontario, We were able to count at least 40 Bucks, does and fawns, all in the same area.As you View the images, note the distended stomachs, the ribs showing under the fur and the wounds due to lack of variety of foods, and there increasing numbers as we as Humans encroach on there territory.
Enjoy the information, Deer should not eat grass, its to tough, but these whitetails were munching away for many hours as Humans we must Move UP instead of OUT Higher apartments
and if we do keep moving OUT into there territory, leave them be, go inside, safekeep your dogs, cats., close all doors, keep Garbage out of there way to stop them from returning, remember you encroached into there backyard, not vis versa, so LIVE with them peacefully.
Thank you, this writer and most Humans would agree…………
Whitetails (Odocoileus virginiansis ) have been around a long time. The species is 3½ million years old, and they are such awesomely successful survivors that they have not changed over these millions of years. They did not change because they are so well designed they did not need to.
While whitetail ancesters are not as ancient as the ancestors of other deer ( Muntjac ancestors arose in the middle of the Miocene Epoch [22–42 million years ago], while the whitetail ancestors came along in the late Pleiocene [3.4–5.2 million years ago] .) But whitetails are the oldest living deer species.
The strength of the whitetail is its flexibility; they are ecological generalists, or opportunists. This means that, as a group, they can get by in all sorts of environments, different climates and temperatures; they can eat a huge variety of foods…they have been documented eating fish, dead birds and insects! Their flexibility allows them to coexist with human development; they are frequenters of farm crops and back yards, and can also be serious pests, not only agriculturally, but on the road causing car accidents and human deaths as well.
There are 37 subspecies of whitetail in North and South America (This does not include the mule deer and blacktailed deer which belong to a separate species), but DNA testing is showing that many of the deer now listed as subspecies are actually just locally adapted versions of the near-perfect original.
Whitetail like to live in the woods, dry or swampy, and the borders of woods. And whitetail love water. They are excellent swimmers, and will swim safely out to sea to a distance of five miles! The typical whitetail, restricted to open grass plains, would not survive.
Although, to everything there are exceptions, and whitetails for example who are facing deep, obstructing snow that slows their escape, or even traps them in place, will then yard on flat, windblown prairies. They are choosing the less dangerous of two very dangerous options. Their normal way of escaping predators cannot be used in open country. When yarded up in winter the herd is preyed upon by predators, and it is mostly the young, the old and the sick on the outer edges that are the ones attacked. Hoofed animals that live out in the open, such as elk, are usually distance runners, and if they can run faster than their predators and outlast their predators, who for the most part are also good runners, they get to live another day.
A whitetail in the open though is a sitting duck for a pack of wolves, coyotes or dogs who are committed to the chase. As a group, whitetails are hiders, dodgers and sprinters, not distance runners, who like to out run and put obstacles between themselves and the predator.
The whitetail deer’s first concern is safety, so their environment must have what they need to allow them to maximize their best protection strategies. The doe with fawns is more intensely safety conscious than the buck, and a buck in rut can actually get quite stupid and forgo safety for the chance to breed. But, if the food is great, but safety is not, deer generally will shun that location in favor of a more secure place.
Individual whitetails are extremely loyal to their own territory, although they will leave it for up to several days if they are being hunted there, and they will leave it permanently if it becomes unsafe. In these cases their loyalty to their deeply ingrained anti-predator instincts win out over their attachment to the home territory. However, there are stories of whitetails that have starved rather than leave a barren home territory, in this case their attachment to their home keeps them on a doomed path to starvation.
If their habitat is invaded by competitors, like exotic deer, the whitetails compete poorly. Whitetail deer in Maryland were being pushed out by the oriental sika deer until conservation management helped them out. Overall, a specialist will out compete a generalist in an established area, but while the specialist may win the battle, the flexibility of the generalist, over the long run, lets them win the war.
The whitetail dietary flexibility stops at grass. They did not develop into grazers like some of the other deer species. They did not develop the special teeth or stomachs that can efficiently grind up and digest the tough fibers in grasses (like the horses and bovines did for example). The types of deer that do graze (like the axis deer) prefer to follow behind the coarse grass grazers so they can eat the new-sprouting, more tender shoots that spring up after the first “mowing”.
Whitetail, like all deer, have incisor teeth (the cutting teeth in front) on only the bottom jaw, and a cartilage pad on the front of the upper jaw (They have molars on both upper and lower jaws.) This tooth pattern causes them to pull out the grass rather than to cut it like the specialized grazers do. The tender base of the grass is low in fiber, more nutritious and more digestible. So while whitetail can digest some of the grasses’ most tender shoots, overall they would not thrive on grass alone.
When deer eat they are feeding themselves, but they are also feeding their gut microorganisms. Deer digestion is 100% dependent on them. They help break down the food, and without them the deer cannot digest. Deer are ruminants, meaning that they bring their food back up to chew it again. If a deer, or any ruminant, starves to the point of also starving off the good microorganisms, in order to survive, the deer will need to get not just food, but needs to get replacement gut flora too. Even with all the food a deer could want, it would starve to death if the gut flora is not replaced.
For their special type of digestion deer have stomachs with four sections, all in a row. The first section, the rumen, is where the food goes first after it has been chewed and swallowed. It can hold over two gallons, and this lets the deer bolt down a large amount of food if necessary so that it can quickly leave an area to return to safety. It is in the rumen that food is held to be brought up into its mouth later for rechewing, this is rumination or “chewing its cud”. The food is then ready to go to the second section of stomach, the reticulum. The real digestion takes place in the third section, the omasum. The last section of stomach is called the abomasum, and here the food is pelleted and routed for exit.
Whitetails are exquisite in their grace and beauty, and under special conditions, where their nature and needs are understood, they can be tamed and kept as pets. It is definitely not a commitment to be taken lightly though. Whitetail deer live 20 years or more in captivity, and have many special needs…not only to be comfortable, but to simply survive.
It is important to realize that deer are prey animals, while dogs and cats for example are predators. Deer are more like birds and horses who make their way in the world by being constantly alert and ready to take flight at the least whiff of danger. A prey animal will only turn to fight a predator as a last and most unwelcome choice. The prey animals that live the longest are the ones with the keenest senses, reflexes, wariness, brains and physical fitness. Its flight response though is what powers the frightened deer that will, in blind terror, hurl itself into a solid object, off a precipice, into fencing or other damaging situation, and kill or injure itself.
A pet deer will, bit by bit, relinquish its profoundly wild instincts as it is tamed. An animal that is imprinted (using the word loosely) on humans will allow a person into its most intimate, personal space, and will allow very familiar physical contact. An animal that is merely hand-tame will allow closeness usually only to accept food or limited petting, and it would bolt off in a panic if you, for example, tried to hug it. Many wild animals’ personal spaces shrink with familiarity. They might know that a particular dog never behaves in a predatory way, and so pay little attention to it, even allowing it into it’s familiar personal space. A tolerant, pen raised deer might accept a distance of, say, 20 feet between itself and its caretaker, but have a stranger come along with the caretaker and the deer will blast off in a panic. Or, if the familiar person tries to close that 20 feet to 15 feet, the deer’s flight response will kick in with full force. Finally, a completely wild animal will have its natural, unadulterated “flight distance”. Just as humans have their own personal space that, if intruded upon, will make them feel crowded and alarmed, other species as well have their own typical distance that, if trespassed upon, will trigger flight. For the whitetail this distance is 200 feet, while for the pronghorn for example it is 500 feet.
Tame bucks though, because they are tame, can be killers. In the wild a buck has an intense need to preserve its own flight distance, and would not think of coming close to a human, and that is exactly what protects us. Once that need for distance is gone, the aggressive, rutting buck (even more so if a person happens to come between the buck and a doe he is courting) has no sense of needing to preserve its space, and that is when he becomes seriously dangerous.