Kalispell Montana Wildlife – Deer
I recently wrote about the thrill of watching a healthy herd of elk during the winter of 2021-2022. They were such impressive animals and I just had to share. And then I was thinking about our deer, the white-tailed kind that are prevalent in my area of Kalispell Montana. They’re less imposing creatures, but are more loyal, sticking around all year while the elk disappear all summer. So, they deserve some time as well! He is a video of some of our deer sightings.
Below is some miscellaneous information about white-tailed deer:
Lifespan: An average white tail deer lives approximately 4.5 years in the wild (per hikingandfishing.com). It’s not surprising that it is a relatively short period. Not only do deer need to deal with deep snow, difficulty finding water and plants in winter, and predators, but they also need to stay out of the way of hunters. Apparently the oldest white tail deer on record was 19. Highly unlikely that was a buck.
Daily Travel: While elk can travel 12 or more miles per day, deer have a home range that is is usually less than a square mile in size. They often travel in groups which could include a mother and her fawns. Some sources indicate a doe with no fawns travels alone. That being said, we have seen groups of as many as ten that seem to pal around together, and I doubt that is one doe and nine young deer. So from my own observations, deer do seem to travel in groups.
Prey: Deer are at risk from other wild animals in the area, specifically mountain lion, wolf, coyote and bobcat. A few winters ago as we took our morning walk down a freshly snow covered driveway, we did see signs of a mountain lion/deer interaction. The deer lost. We could see the path where the cat pulled the deer up into the hills. We haven’t seen the other animals listed attack a deer, although we did witness (sort of) a coyote killing a turkey. But that’s another story. Bottom line, the biggest threat to deer are people.
Food: White tailed deer are herbivores, eating only plants. We typically see them eating in the morning and late afternoon. Similar to cows, the deer have four stomach chambers which lets them eat things other animals might not be able to digest – things like twigs and woody plants. They seem to enjoy the tall grasses in our area, as well as shrubs and other trees.
Reproduction: In terms of reproduction, deer mate in November. About six months later, the does gives birth, usually to one to three fawns. The spotted babies can walk immediately and start foraging for food just a few days later. As with elk, the fawns have ways to cope with possible predators. They will lay on the ground, with their heads stretch out flat on the ground to make them harder to find. Babies are weaned around six weeks. A female fawn will stay with mom for a few years, but they males usually leave within a year or so.
Other: Deer can run up to 30 miles per hour and are great at leaping over things. They also look up from whatever they are doing quite often. And they are great at standing perfectly still.
And there you have a quick overview of white tailed deer. They can be found everywhere in the Kalispell area of Montana. If you’re out and about on a summer morning or evening, keep an eye out for them!
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