Saturday, January 24, 2015

Deer Demographic Shifts

Our views of wild animals ranges widely. I will simply say that I was surprised when I saw this in an urban neighborhood.

The attraction to urban living for these two is evident. My understanding of deer biology is not deep enough to reach any conclusions as to feeding, but I will say my own personal values put my vegetable garden well above my tolerance for deer.

 My own anecdotal take is that the deer population in Bellingham has been increasing with deer presence in even the most urban locations including occasional passage through downtown. Deer are very common in Port Townsend (urban-herbivores). Orcas Island deer populations are having a visible impact on the landscape as the deer prefer Douglas fir to lodge pole pine (lodgepole-pine-on-orcas-island) (deer-doing-bonsai).

Elsewhere around the United States deer populations have surged in populated areas. A few communities have begun culling programs as deer populations within urban areas were exceeding the tolerance of the humans. For example the sand dune areas of northern Indiana had deer populations exceeding 300 per square mile. Remarkable change given that the deer population had been completely eliminated in the early 1900s.

Regardless of ones personal or scientific view of feeding deer, the deer population change is a reminder that nature is not static. While I noted the deer pressure on Douglas fir seedlings on Orcas, the presence of high deer populations in areas where they were not formerly present will likely lead to other changes.  

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