Doe Next Door

Black-tailed Deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) jumping fence in Berkeley Meadow (Sylvia McLaughlin Eastshore State Park)

The sharp eye and fast shutter-finger of photographer Phil Rowntree captured this doe jumping a fence in the Sylvia McLaughlin Eastshore State Park (aka Berkeley Meadow) next door to Cesar Chavez Park. This was the second recent sighting of deer in that park. Last summer, Phil photographed a whole family of deer there, see “Deer Next Door,” July 26 2021. Have the deer lived there since that time? Both Phil and I and probably others as well have kept a lookout for them without result. That doesn’t prove they weren’t there; the area has plenty of shelter dense enough to conceal a few deer. But the odds are that the visitors of last July left again and that this doe is on a new or repeat visit.

To get here, the animals have to somehow cross the railroad tracks and the freeway. They might have crossed the six lanes of traffic in the wee hours, or gone underneath at Gilman Street, or taken the pedestrian bridge at the foot of Addison Street. Each of these options must have been stressful for the animals. But they’re intelligent and accustomed to people and traffic; they’re occasionally seen on Berkeley streets, even in the flats. Possibly the drought is driving them to lower elevations where normally natural water would be found. In wet years, the Meadow features extensive freshwater ponds. This is not one of those years. If there is any standing water in the Meadow it may be under the trees on the south side. If it’s there, the deer are sure to find it.

Thanks to Phil for sharing these unique photos.

Black-tailed Deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) moments before jumping fence in Berkeley Meadow (Sylvia McLaughlin Eastshore State Park)

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