Mutant Deer on Orcas Island

We went to Orcas Island last weekend, more specifically, we stayed at the Rosario Resort. Why we were there, I’ll get to that.¬†But, first: the deer. I had always heard and read that the San Juan Islands have some deer problems-overpopulation and inbreeding, due to the population being isolated. So, I was curious to see some firsthand.

They delivered: there seemed to be a resident population at Rosario that was completely tame, hanging around in the evenings shamelessly¬†begging for food from the tourists. And, indeed, we saw some weirdness amongst them. For one, they are about half the size of normal (well, normal for the mainland) blacktailed deer. One buck we saw had a deformed front food that twisted out to the side, so he walked pretty awkwardly.¬†They all had poor hair coats, I didn’t see a single¬†one I would consider healthy looking. On Sunday when we left, one was dead on the side of the road (the hotel staff was scrambling to get rid of that non-tourist-friendly eyesore!).

And, we saw this cool pinto (piebald) colored one- a very predator-friendly color, so lucky for him, the island doesn’t apparently¬† have cougars, coyotes or wolves.

Pinto Deer
Pinto Deer

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