PenderBlog From The Pender Islands Of Canada

April 6, 2010

Black-tailed deer on Pender

Filed under: Nature watch — Jocko @ 6:34 pm


photo: Jocko

If you have ever wondered about what really goes on in the secret life of our deer, please read on.

Mule and Black-tailed deer are both members of the same species, Odocoileus hemionus, yet they are very different from one another. In British Columbia, these two subspecies or races are the most widespread members of the deer family (Cervidae) and probably the most familiar.

They become quite tame in parks and residential areas where there is no hunting and few large predators.

The number of antler points is not a reliable way to determine the age of these deer, but in general, yearling blacktails almost always have unbranched spikes. Two-year-olds mostly have small two-point antlers, but they may also have spikes. Bucks three years old and older may have two, three, or four points on each antler.

Black-tailed Deer occur along the entire coast of British Columbia, west of the summit of the Coast and Cascade ranges, and on most coastal islands. Blacktails are excellent swimmers and inhabit most islands.

This is a prolific species which can double its population in a few years under favourable conditions. Black-tailed and Mule deer live more than eight to ten years. Predation, starvation, and hunting are the main causes of death.

Mule and Black-tailed deer are vital components of their ecosystems and provide food for several predators. The Cougar depends on both species for its survival in British Columbia. Wolf populations in several areas, including Vancouver Island, also rely heavily on deer. Bears, Bobcats, and Coyotes supplement their diets by killing deer when the opportunity arises or by scavenging on carcasses left by Cougars or wolves. Other scavengers include Wolverines, Ravens, and Magpies. (Pender Island has only Ravens as predators)

For the most part, Mule and Black-tailed deer live amicably with a number of parasites and disease organisms. These kill deer only when the deer are starving. Epidemic diseases have not caused large die-offs in deer in British Columbia.

Excerpted from B.C. Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks Brochure entitled Mule and Black-Tailed Deer in British Columbia.  Original Text by Donald A. Blood.  For the complete story on black-tailed deer, download the brochure here:  muledeer.pdf

1 Comment »

  1. Add “run-ins with vehicles” to main causes of death

    Comment by Heather Grant — April 10, 2010 @ 9:37 am

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