Yesterday, a Coyote–Today it’s Deer!
Yesterday in this space, I told you about the large coyote who's developed an affinity for the grounds around our radio station (click here to learn about Illinois' largest predator). I also mentioned that we get other visitors from the animal kingdom, including hawks, foxes, turkeys, and deer.
Today, apparently, is deer day around here. This morning, around 4:15, I looked out our back window to see several deer milling around near our station's patio. Now, if we were out in the middle of farm or forest land, I wouldn't think twice about it. However, we're well within city limits. Maybe it's a food thing, but really, the only things that fit the "food" description around a radio station are donuts and coffee grounds. I looked it up, and that's not what white-tail deer prefer.
I did learn a bit about the deer here in Rockford, though. According to the University of Illinois Extension, the white-tailed deer is the only native species of deer in Illinois. What's more, there are more white-tailed deer in Illinois right now than there were when European settlers first arrived.
White-tailed deer occur in every county of Illinois. There are more deer in Illinois today than when the European settlers first arrived. However, Illinois has not always had large deer populations. By the late 1800s, deer had been nearly extirpated from the state. Some isolated populations remained in the state, and others likely moved in from adjacent states, but the deer population remained very small. A restocking effort was begun in the 1930s. The deer population grew quickly due to better habitat (more edge habitat created by humans), the lack of predators (wolves and cougars had been extirpated), and a ban on deer hunting. By 1957, deer populations in Illinois had grown large enough to allow the first modern deer-hunting season in 33 counties. Some form of hunting, firearm or archery, now occurs in every county and the annual deer harvest exceeded 200,000 deer in 2005.
The one thing I didn't know about deer until this morning is that they're apparently gifted mimics:
Tomorrow's report will depend on which one of Dr. Doolittle's pals show up out back. It's like Snow White's house around here.