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Archive for February 9, 2012

White-tailed Deer Carcass on Ice

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Often when a deer goes down on ice, it is unable to get back up on its legs. Because of how a deer’s hip and shoulder joints work, one fall can tear connective tissues in a way that keep it down. Its legs splay outward as it falls and it can’t get up.  It is then destined to freeze, starve or be found by predators.  Whether it slips on its own, or is chased out onto the ice by a coyote or some other predator, a fall can be a death sentence for deer. However, its carcass does not go to waste.  It doesn’t take long for predators and scavengers to become aware of this bountiful supply of food.  For years, in Massachusetts on Quabbin Reservoir, bald eagles have relied on ice-stranded deer for their winter survival.  The deer in the accompanying photographs was consumed in a few days by a wide variety of predators, including bald eagles, coyotes, red foxes and a great many ravens, judging from tracks found nearby.  Not a morsel did they waste – the hide was thoroughly cleaned, and the organs, flesh and many of the bones were eaten.  The only portion of the deer that hadn’t been touched was the contents of its intestines – everything else had been picked clean as a whistle.