Animals in Summer: Oh Deer!

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White-tailed deer – Odocoileus virginianus

As the weather is heating up you might be seeing extra tracks in your garden. Some of these tracks may belong to this month’s mammal: the white-tailed deer. Here at the Nature Preserve, we are seeing lots of deer signs, including tracks. The conifers and broad-leafed trees of SHADOW provide cover for the deer as they breed in the summer.

SHADOW Lake Nature Preserve’s 109 acres also provide all the favorite foods of the white-tailed deer. Leaves, twigs, fruits and nuts, grass, and even lichens and other fungi contribute to their diet. Farmers and home gardeners might notice deer munching on corn and other veggies.

Though they get their name from the white fur on the underside of their tail, during the summer months, their coats become more reddish. The fawns are born with white spots but will fade by their first winter. These spots help keep the babies camouflaged as the mothers leave them hiding so that they can search for food.
 

White-tailed deer have scent glands located in between the two toes of their hooves, and in multiple spots on their hind legs. These glands deposit scent to identify where other deer have been for mating and food sourcing purposes. Since our noses as not as sensitive as the deer’s sent glands, we must use our eyes to spot these beauties. Also, keep looking out for tracks, scat, and other signs for insight on where you might see White Tailed Deer in the future.