By: Cholla Rose Nicoll, Borderlands Wildlife Preserve Lead Technician
As fall settles in and the high grasses from the monsoon start to fade to brown, we see why so many animals in this region share the same muted tones. One of the animals using color to camouflage into their environment is the Coues deer (Odocoileus virginianus couesi) also known as the White-tailed deer. Coues whitetails are the smallest subspecies of the white-tailed deer, averaging 65 to 100 pounds, with females on the smaller end. As their name implies, they have a broad triangular-shaped tail with a white underside.
White-tailed deer reside in Arizona in elevations ranging from 4K to 10K feet. These small and shy creatures prefer oak woodlands, grasslands, chaparral, and pine forests using cover from significant vegetation to hide from predators. In drought years, vegetation is low, leading to more predation from animals such as mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats, and black bears. This year vegetation is exceptionally high, giving white-tailed deer and particularly fawns a better chance of survival.
The two deer seen in the pictures are a doe and her young fawn. If you look closely, you can still see the fawns' spots indicating this animal is still under two months of age. White-tailed deer in warm climates such as southern Arizona generally do not migrate due to weather but may migrate to find food and water resources. Their home ranges are also relatively small, averaging around 2 to 4 square miles or less.
The deer we see on the wildlife trail cameras could likely spend their entire lives living within or close to the Borderlands Wildlife Preserve boundaries. As the most frequently captured animal on the wildlife trail cameras, I occasionally see a familiar face. I hope these two find a haven in the high grasses and oaks this fall and look forward to documenting their existence and story of life. The best time to catch a glimpse of a white-tailed deer is at dawn or dusk. A set of binoculars is always recommended as these animals will most likely see you before you see them.
For a more detailed explanation of the white-tailed deer and its subspecies please click here.
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