Sustainability Committee meeting: Tuesday, Feb. 2
Oh dear, Deer!
Why do we see so many more of our furry friends this time of the year, especially on the Witmer Road entrance to campus? Come to the Sustainability Committee meeting at 12:40 p.m. on Tuesday in Gallagher Center multi-purpose room to find out.
Are there more deer on campus now? No, they are just more noticeable for a few reasons. First, the leaves have fallen off of all of our deciduous shrubs and trees and all of the annuals and perennials are gone, making it possible to see much further into a forest. Second, their food supply has dwindled. All of those succulent plant parts are gone. So they need to travel further to find food thus exposing them to us more often. Evergreens, which for most of the year are not touched, now become a part of their diets. Third, they move more, as there is more hunting pressure by coyotes since small rodents are burrowed away and the coyotes tend to look at other sources of food. Fourth, the snow is sometimes shallower near roadways therefore it is easier walking and easier to find grass. Road salt hastens snow melt and the lack of a forest canopy leads to faster melting thus deer may congregate more often by roads.
Why do we see so many deer at night? Deer are known as crepuscular animals, they are most active near dawn and dusk. As days are shorter now we are more apt to be out during those times and hence see them. So what should you do if you see a deer? If you are driving SLOW DOWN. Many times they travel in a herd and if they are on opposite sides of a roadway your moving car may be just the thing to startle them to begin running. Those large eyes get blinded by your bright headlights and it becomes very disorienting for them. Deer-car accidents lead to bad results for both parties, typically death of the deer and sometimes damage to the vehicle and occasionally injury or death to its occupants. Enjoy your friendly encounters with deer, in a few months spring will arrive and bring with it the birth of a new collection of fawns.
Sustainably yours, Mark Gallo, Ph.D, and Dan McMann, co-chairs of Sustainability Committee.