Wandering Through Winter with White-Tailed Deer

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Wandering through winter is the way of life for the white-tailed deer living in our midst. They need not wander far. For snowy days, temperatures below freezing, and winds that howl across open meadows and fields rarely present a danger to the thousands of deer that live in Oakland County. Deer have evolved a four-step basic strategy for surviving winter that is really rather simple: go about a slightly altered routine, don’t over exert, sleep near your best food supply, and just wait for spring. They can do this thanks to physical traits and behavioral patterns that slowly changed as autumn faded. Continue reading

Coexisting with Urban Wildlife at Winter’s Approach

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“Great and terrible flesh-eating beasts have always shared landscapes with humans. They were part of the ecological matrix within which Homo sapiens evolved. They were part of the psychological context in which our sense of identity as a species arouse.”

“The teeth of big predators, their claws, their ferocity and their hunger, were grim realities that could be eluded but not forgotten. Every once in a while, a monstrous carnivore emerged like doom from a forest or a river to kill someone and feed on the body. It was a familiar sort of disaster-like auto fatalities today – that must have seemed freshly gruesome each time, despite the familiarity.” — Monster of God, David Quammen

Oakland County lacks the man-eating predators of history that still seem to haunt our minds and exaggerate our fears. But as the cold days of November shorten, and some species of wildlife move closer to our homes to forage under bird feeders, we still behave at times as if our lives are at risk by the very presence of wildlife. Negative comments about opossums, raccoons, deer, wild turkeys and the much maligned Eastern Coyote seem to spread like wildfire as Thanksgiving draws near. Some neighborhood social media sites fuel misinformation about urban wildlife with comments such as, “We saw a coyote lurking in a field.” Deer, rabbits, turkeys and coyotes might be seen in a field, but none lurk there: a reminder that the usage of certain words can be powerful and lead to fear-mongering. Continue reading