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Did you know that Santa’s reindeer have some southern cousins in Western North Carolina?

They don’t fly, but white-tailed deer have built in signals right on their tails. Native to North America, the white-tailed deer is probably one of the most recognizable mammals in our region.

While locals to this area may take the white-tailed deer for granted, they are truly remarkable creatures. They were once on the brink of extirpation (local extinction). Thanks to population control standards set by the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission, there is now a healthy deer population.

White-tailed deer can thrive in almost every environment from mountains to marshes, and even your backyard. These hardy creatures are excellent survivors because they have almost no natural predators, are able to adapt to urban environments, and have a warning system to help warn their herd of possible danger. They use their tails to communicate to the herd that a predator may be nearby. If you’ve ever observed a deer in nature (or at the Nature Center), you probably noticed that they constantly look up from grazing to check their surroundings and their ears are constantly moving to listen for potential threats. If they hear, see or even smell a predator, their white tails flip up, signaling other deer to run from danger. Speaking of smell, deer have incredible noses. They can smell up to 60 times more than a human can. With all these great adaptations, it’s no wonder white-tailed deer are thriving.

There are several ways you can help white-tailed deer in the wild. If you find a fawn (baby deer with white spots) by itself, leave it be. Mother deer will leave their young hidden while they look for food. And drive extra cautiously around dawn and dusk when deer are most active.

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