Project 52 #31: Sitka Black Tail

Meet the reason my raspberry bushes are heavily fenced!

It’s hunting season here, but these particular deer have been smart enough to take up residence in town where they are safe from hunters. They paid little attention to me when I was taking these pictures, and I could have touched them if I wanted to. Last winter, one slept under our front porch for a couple nights and would just stare at us when we came out to look at it, seemingly fearless! Not great if you’re trying to grow hostas or any other plant they happen to love, but they are still beautiful animals.

A few interesting facts:

—Sitka black tail are a subspecies of mule deer unique to the coastal rainforests of southeast Alaska and northern British Columbia.

—They are good swimmers, occasionally even known to swim deep channels between islands.

—They have four-chambered stomachs which allow them to “ruminate” (rechew) their food, and contains bacteria specialized in breaking down cellulose. Since these bacteria are so specialized, they have tremendous difficulty digesting strange material and can die of starvation with their bellies full of food.

—They are small deer (adult average of 106-198 lb). They honestly remind me more of goats than the whitetail deer I grew up around, especially when I see them leaping and running along the steep, rocky slopes of this mountainous place.

“For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?—
the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.
He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.”
(Psalm 18:31-33)