Thursday, November 13, 2008

Deer found on Urban University's Campus

Photo credit – Washington University Students
Check out the Washington University Student Paper Story which includes more great shots of the deer on campus taken by students.

Earlier this week this yearling deer had been observed on campus - eating grass and just hanging around Washington University campus. The college is an urban campus in the heart of St. Louis, Missouri. It had been gently lead away from campus on Monday, but was back Tuesday morning. Since it wasn’t causing any trouble the grounds keepers let it be. It was an exciting day on campus but everyone pretty much admired the deer from a distance and did not startle it, which was the right thing to do.

When you encounter wildlife you may tempted to do one things.
A) Get excited and want to touch it, feed it, or help it – anything to get closer to it.
B) Get scared and want to shoo it away, throw something at or run – anything to get some distance from it.

I was that kid who did A, oh heck let me stop kidding, I’m that adult who wants to do A, that’s why I became a biologist. But the truth is both A and B are inappropriate.

Handling wild animals is risky and as a professional I have been trained to handle animals and more importantly, I assume the risk of handling an animal. That risk includes being injured. So I must insist you don’t do A, no matter how tempting….and I do understand how tempting it is. B is also wrong, too. Why? Startling can cause panic – in you and animal and panic results in unpredictable movements and actions. Panic leads to injury and we do not want that. If you remain calm, then very likely so will the animal. Remember, safety first, yours and the animals.

However, I’m convinced deer are very smart animals who can tell time. This time of year, autumn, is hunting season. I bet this guy was scouting out some ‘safe’ place to hang out for the season. And what’s safer than a college campus with students and faculty who are tolerant of cute woodland creatures? Almost nothing else. But seriously, this guy braved a few obstacles to get to the heart of campus. More than likely his primary home range is Forest Park which is across the street from the University. He had to cross a very busy five-lane street, so he is a lucky fellow. And I need to say this, I say he out of habit. I am not sure if the yearling is a male or female, but typically female young stay close to their mothers and males go off on their own.

Check out the news reel - Deer Turns Heads On Wash U Campus from KTVI -
Now, this was an Urban Science Adventure!


Anonymous said...

Well, I think you might be on to something with them telling time, but I wish they could read the signs and stop crossing the road where there are no 'deer crossing' signs;-).

I have a 14 we call the pet whisperer (wants to be a vet... or a biologist). We send her in the fray with domestic animals that are not so as friendly as we would like. She has even tamed our 48 chickens. The only wild animals she works with are little rodents and birds when they are trapped or injured.

DNLee said...

I can relate. I wanted to be a Vet, too..But that was before I discovered that I could be a biologist - animal behavioral biologist in fact - full time. There are lots of options for careers if you like biology. My best advice is to study up on all of them. In my case I didn't know anything else, but I learned a lot and had fun along the way.

Ratty said...

You give good advice about wild animals. I have quite a few deer where I am, and the encounters I've had with them have been good. But not everybody understands to keep their distance.

DNLee said...

thanks Ratty.

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