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Deer making their presence known at Mount Charleston

Reported by: Tom Hawley
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Updated: 5/10/2013 6:42 pm
MOUNT CHARLESTON (KSNV -- If you drive up Mount Charleston this time of year, there's a good chance you'll see some deer. You might not even have to get out of your car.

Hikers on the Charleston Trails have seen deer many times but mostly high on the mountain and only at daybreak.

But this spring, they have appeared much lower and in the middle of the day.

Nancy White Howe lives in Kyle Canyon on Mount Charleston and has been snapping pictures of mule deer.

“They're not afraid at all,” she said. “They'll just stand there when you're driving through. They'll run right in front of you. A lot more this year than in other years.”

That has been both a pleasure and a problem.

“They're landscape scale species. They do make movements. They will cross major thoroughfares, as do elk and bighorn sheep,” said Pat Cummings of the Nevada Department of Wildlife. “And it's unfortunate, but wildlife vehicle collisions do occur.”

The collisions occur typically at night, according to Cummings. But News 3 cameras caught these deer around noon.

“It's unusual because usually in the midday, they're bedded down,” Cummings said. “They're more interested in thermo-regulating, getting out of direct sunshine.”

One big change here the past couple of years, is fire remediation efforts in places like Trail Canyon here. A lot of the smaller trees and underbrush has been cleared away to provide less fuel. That also allows some of these grasses to grow in greater abundance, which makes for pretty good grazing, if you're a deer.

The deer go where the eating is good. For the moment, that's low in the canyon.

“Right about now is kind of a transition time, where they're moving off their winter range, and in the process they're going up in elevation,” Cummings said. “And eventually as it warms up a little bit, they'll be up at the higher elevations in these spring months.”

For now, with plentiful food for deer down low, drivers need to keep their eyes open for safety and for appreciation of the area.

The Department of Wildlife estimates that there are about 400 mule deer in the Spring Mountain range but says those numbers are very difficult to nail down.

Though they're frequently visible in the midday at this time, the best deer watching is at dawn and dusk.


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