• Feeding Wildlife
• White-Tailed Deer in Sifton Bog
• Strategy for Preventing and Managing Human-Deer Conflicts in Southern Ontario (Ministry of Natural Resources, 2008)
The white-tailed deer is common throughout North America. Of the 16 subspecies of white-tailed deer, three reside in Canada. The northern white-tailed deer is the subspecies found from the Ontario-Manitoba border eastward to Cape Breton.
The white-tailed deer is the most visible large mammal in southwestern Ontario. The deer’s breeding season, or rut, takes place in the fall with young born 6½ months later, usually toward the end of May. Although fawns are able to walk shortly after birth, the doe (female deer) will hide them in a dry location sheltered by long grass or shrubs. Does prefer to keep a little distance from their fawns in an effort to keep them hidden, and will only have direct contact with them when nursing. A fawn found alone should never be touched or moved; its mother is nearby and it is important not to get human scent on the fawn.
Deer are browsers that feed on the tender shoots of a variety of plants. Grass is eaten only in early spring. In the summer, deer eat the leaves and tips of shrubs and trees as well as a wide range of herbaceous plants. Late summer and autumn bring on the ripening fruit and nuts that the deer depend on for fattening up to help them survive the rigours of winter. In the winter, deer feed on the bark and cambium (inner bark) of twigs and small branches and winter-green herbaceous plants. Because deer feed on shrubs, small trees and herbaceous plants, they are not found in deep, dense forests but along the edges of forests or in open woodlands.
For most of the year deer are solitary or found in small groups. In winter, however, deer may congregate (“yard”) in areas that provide shelter from storms, are free from deep snow, and have a supply of food. The deer disperse in the spring and summer, when food is once again abundant and accessible.