Sunday, March 21, 2010

Delk?





We have these deer in our back yard lately. The little one, last year's fawn, is running with a doe from the previous year's crop of fawns.
We've never seen a deer colored like this. She is not shedding off, and doesn't have mange or something. I know because she came right up under my window and I took photos through the glass of the window, sneaking the camera between the slats of the mini-blind. This lighter colored hair is fluffy and long.
She has this striking pink-hued hair over the middle and back part of her body. And I didn't get it on camera, but the white under her tail is amazingly white, even when compared to the white under the tail of her friend.

The front half looks just like a normal deer in this region.
We do have elk here, though have not seen any in our yard yet. This yearling almost looks like a cross between an elk and a deer, since the back part of the body is lighter than the front. I am probably way off, that probably doesn't happen. But it is fun to watch her! I'm afraid she may not last long, colored the way she is. She will stick out to predators like a neon arrow!
And we DO have predators here! A couple of weeks ago, a cougar was killed 3 houses north of us, and the newspaper is reporting a cougar hanging around town (we are at the very end of the city limits of this little, country town). Across the road from our home, there are miles of wooded canyons with rocky cliffs and dense brush. I've often thought it would make an ideal habitat for a cougar.
My feelings about cougars is this: if they are coming right into your yard, looking in your windows, hanging out under the porch to sneak a bite of your dog, then they need to be shot and killed. You can't hardly "relocate" a mt. lion, their range is 100 miles radius. The local big cats need to be "trained" to stay away from humans and homes and shooting one to do that is probably the only way to do it. The lion shot in our neighbor's yard came into a yard full of lion-hunting dogs, so confined dogs don't seem to scare them away.
But I am absolutely against killing cougars in the wild, away from town. I guess if I had a herd of sheep and one was coming in and killing the sheep, again, I'd want to shoot one. But just to go out and hunt and kill one because it is a cougar, no way. I love them so much and they are just part of nature, a sign of a healthy ecosystem.
I've only sighted 3 cougars in my life. So much of my life, I've ridden alone or with a riding partner up high in the mountains or in the desert. At other times, my horses have left their tracks on lonely plateaus or crossing canyon streams. I have watched the cliffs and rocky outcroppings for cougars, and rode for 30 years before I spotted one, and it was just a quarter mile, if that, from my home in north-central Washington state.
A few weeks later, I saw the same cat hunting a deer on a sage-blanketed hillside about a half mile from our ranch.
And, we saw one last year crossing the road in front of our car about twenty miles from our house here in south-central WA.
I love these elusive animals!

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