Description. Columbian Black-tailed deer or blacktail deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) is smaller than the mule deer. It is with relatively shorter ears and finer hair; especially distinguished by the shorter metatarsal gland and tuft which occupy a considerable part of the upper half of the cannon bone segment. The senses of sight and smell of this deer is excellent. Any unusual sounds that may signal danger can be picked up by their large ears independently of each other.
Its general colors are brownish gray, darkest along the back, with a tinge of reddish brown on the head; chin, upper throat, and posterior portion of underparts white, rest as above. Tail black above, basal third beneath white. Antlers are similar to those of the mule deer. The summer coat is redder than winter.
The deer live near the edge of the forest because the dark forest lacks the underbrush and grassland they prefer, and completely open areas lack the cover and hiding spots they require.
Diet: In winter their diet includes Douglas fir, western red cedar, huckleberry, salal, deer fern, and lichens. In late spring and fall, they eat grasses, blackberries, apples, fireweed, pearly everlasting, forbs, salmonberries, salal, and maple syrup. The western poison oak is one of the plants black-tailed deer browse despite its irritant content.
Range. British Columbia, through Washington and Oregon, west of the Cascade Mountains. Closely related varieties to the north and south, in Alaska and Northern, California. Our Pacific coast region is favored with more distinct kinds of deer than any other part of the Union.
Besides a representative of the widespread Virginia deer group, there are also the larger heavier mule deer and the smaller darker species above described. In the central and eastern portions of the county, the range of this deer population overlaps with the Rocky Mountain subspecies.
The black-tailed deer has a very restricted distribution and was unknown to naturalists until the famous expedition of Lewis and Clarke across the Rocky Mountains and into northwestern territory. These observant naturalists recognized in both this and the mule deer species which were unknown to them and have given in the account of their travel’s excellent descriptions of both.
The blacktail deer is in many ways intermediate between the mule and the Virginia deer but has the same peculiarity of gait and much the same style of antlers as the former. In its general mode of life, the blacktail is in some respects, unlike the mule deer, although it resembles the latter in its bounding gait when frightened.
Such a fatiguing pace can, however, be maintained only for a comparatively short distance, and the deer consequently soon become blown when they start off in this manner. When starting without being frightened, they run in a more ordinary way, and are then able to hold out for a much longer time, as is also the case with the mule deer. The deer is frequently involved in collisions with automobiles at dawn and dusk.
Unlike the latter, the present species is a forest-loving animal, frequenting the dense woods of conifers bordering the Pacific Coast, whose deep shade affords ample concealment. The black-tailed deer is widely distributed in California, ranging from San Luis Obispo County to Santa Barbara County, as well as northwest into Washington state and coastal British Columbia. A very popular game animal.
Fawn: The fawns are usually born in May, their number being generally two, although triplets have also been recorded. During their first week, fawns weigh 2.7 to 4 kg. They are more fully spotted than those of the mule deer, the spots themselves being more sharply defined and arranged in more definite longitudinal lines. In these respects, the fawns are more like those of the Virginian deer.”
Length. Its length is about 6 feet, and can weigh from 35 to 210kg.
Varieties of Black-tailed Deer
Black-tailed Deer. (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus). Throughout western North America, the Columbian black-tail deer can be found from Northern California through British Columbia’s coastal regions.
Sitkhan or Sikta deer. (O. h. sitkensis) Similar, but ears are shorter, and the basal part of the tail above is fulvous like the back. Range. Southern Alaska.
Californian Black-tailed Deer. O. columbianus scaphiotus Merriam. Colours are paler and ears longer. Range. Northern California. Read More – Schomburgk’s Deer – An Extinct Deer Species