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Snow Leading To More Visits From Local Deer

By Ron Sanders, WBZ-TV
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A group of deer looking for food together in Otto River, Massachusetts. (credit: Martin)

A group of deer looking for food together in Otto River, Massachusetts. (credit: Martin)

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BOSTON (CBS) – Heavy snow this winter is evidently contributing to more frequent visits by groups of deer in suburban Boston yards over the past week.

“We have been seeing deer but not that many and they don’t usually come during the day,” said Martin Duplessis.

He and his wife Beverly photographed eight deer huddled in the backyard of their home in the Otter River section of Templeton late Saturday morning.

“It’s usually at night when it’s dark and we don’t see them really good,” said Beverly Duplessis referring to deer visits in the past.

WBZ-TV’s Ron Sanders reports.

Marion Larson, of MassWildlife, saw eight deer huddled together near her central Massachusetts home Sunday. A WBZ viewer saw a similar group outside her Middleton home the same day. A member of the WBZ staff saw five outside her Wilmington home last week.

“At this time of year, deer are spending more time together. There’s strength in numbers as it were,” explained Larson.

But this year, said Larson, heavy snow accumulation in southern New England has prompted groups of deer to stay in one area because it’s difficult to move through deep snow.

“Some people call these areas yards, deer yards. That kind of behavior is usually only seen in northern New England and maybe out in the Berkshires,” she said.

So, it’s likely people seeing deer in their yards live near so-called deer yards. The Duplessis’ have heavy deer traffic in their yard, neighboring some woods, on trails they have cleared for themselves near bird feeders.

“We have to get to our firewood…and they’re smart enough to use them,” said Martin Duplessis.

“This is a very critical time of year for deer, especially pregnant does. They’re pregnant and they are spending very little time moving around. They try to stay in areas where there’s lots of food,” said Larson.

MassWildlife officials say you should resist the urge to feed deer in winter because it can change their metabolic rate and encourage them to travel which can lead to accidents on streets and roads.

MassWildlife officials also say there are more deer per square mile inside of Route 495 than outside. That’s because deer like to travel and feed in “edge” areas between deep woods and open grasslands which suburban areas provide.

One deer ventured briefly through an open door into the home of a Newburyport woman causing minor damage Saturday. Environmental Police and Newburyport officers responded, tranquilized and successfully relocated the deer. Larson said that deer likely panicked and mistakenly saw the open door as possible escape.

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