Oh, deer

I have still never seen a moose.

I guess it’s understandable – I’ve only been in moose habitat a handful of times, and I’ve only spent every waking second during those trips with my eyes glued to anything that looks remotely like somewhere I think a moose might live.

But given that our new house is located just a few hundred metres away from a sign warning drivers about the omnipresence of moose, I have high hopes.

In fact, one of the things that appeals to me most about living in Cochrane is the idea that our yard could be a safe haven for all kinds of woodland creatures, and that I, being so interested in them, will be able to sing with them and make them my friends, not unlike Snow White with the birds or Cinderella with the mice or Beauty with the Beast.

Perhaps my vision is slightly romanticized, with me having grown up in Southern Ontario, where seeing a rabbit run across your yard is still a rare delight. Also, I feel like Disney may have presented me with unrealistic expectations.

Still. It’s what I want.

My dreams were dashed a little recently, thanks to a conversation my husband had with a stranger. The stranger, an avid hunter, told him there are “no deer in Cochrane.” I assumed that what he meant was that he was not a very skilled hunter and had been unable to successfully kill a deer while in the Cochrane area. But my husband, being resourceful and smart, looked it up.

And it looks like there might not be any deer in Cochrane.

Distribution of white-tailed deer in Ontario (from the Ministry of Natural Resources)

Distribution of white-tailed deer in Ontario (from the Ministry of Natural Resources)

I overlapped this distribution map with a regular map of Ontario – interestingly, Google and the Ministry of Natural Resources seem to have slightly different opinions about how the province is shaped – and Cochrane seems to lie somewhere in that phallic area in the north-east part of the province. “The northern limit of white-tailed deer range can naturally fluctuate over time according to winter severity (i.e., snow depth, temperature and length of winter season) and food availability,” says MNR. In other words, there’s a slim range of area where the deer might be, and there’s a chance that range could become even slimmer in unpleasant winter conditions (from what I understand, typical Cochrane weather).

So, my chances of seeing a moose will drastically increase, and my chances of seeing a deer will seemingly decrease by a nearly equal proportion.

I’m pretty favourable to the change, but I am left wondering how this will impact my communication abilities with Cochranites. Will they know what a deer does in headlights? And do I need to research how moose react to headlights?

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