Thursday 27 February 2014

Life includes death in the rural cycle of life: deer carcass

RIP Bambi Feb. 20 - March 10th

There were tracks
going from the highway into our yard
In my sideyard, I found evidence of the cycle of life. Someone or something has killed a deer.
My theory, after I checked out the tracks, is that it was hit by a car, just wounded, and wandered away from the road to die. It could have hurt itself jumping a fence, but I don't know for sure. All I know is that there is a carcass in our side yard, and I'd rather it wasn't there!

Daisy and I heard coyotes in the afternoon the other day. We were hanging out on the bench in the sun, I was running the videocam, and we heard their howl. It was unusual, as they normally are nocturnal visitors to our yard. I've seen the tracks. The coyotes couldn't have hunted down a healthy deer.

It's a great mystery of life and death.

I've been watching the carcass since I noticed it. It had fallen, eyes wide open, and was covered in snow.

Poor thing
Her hooves are so amazing.

The crows have gutted her. Fighting for supremacy, they fly, swirl, warn one another of their prize. The turkey vultures must migrate, as there haven't been any around. I never noticed before.

She lies on the left,
at the beginning of my boot tracks
For the squeamish, do not go gently into that good night! Seriously, do not scroll too far down!

Once I realized she was there, I've noticed that day-by-day, even in subzero temperatures (-20C. nights), carnivores have been taking advantage of the carcass. They've gnawed on her ribs, fur lies on the ground, tossed aside to be able to feast. The insects which would feast, are quite frozen in hibernation. They will be of no help in reducing the body.

I worry, since Buster likes to go out at night, that's when the coyotes wander our property.
Taking a flashlight, peering out the window, I've been watching to see if I could see the coyotes. Last night I saw one, around 9:00 p.m., circling the body. It rather creeped me out, even though I know that they patrol in the dark, howling in the wee hours. I realized that Buster was on the front porch, wanting to come in. At least he can climb trees, and the coyotes cannot!

Her head covered in a blanket of snow,
like a death shroud. Feb. 20.
She must have fallen the day before.
Today, Feb. 27, another snowfall obscures the site. The carcass is frozen solid, yet they work away at it. I would prefer they would do their work more quickly, but then, my late mother always thought I was impatient!
Tracks came from beyond,
deep in the wetland
The crows were the first. Feb. 20
This photo was from our guest room window.

Amazing hooves

Feb. 26

Feb. 25
Feb. 25
- the coyotes have been in the night
They've gnawed around the ribs,
despite -20 C.
Feb. 28 view from the window
Feb. 28 Daisy and I inspected the carcass
Mar. 6th, crow works away at it
The wolf or the coyotes have dragged off its head, across the highway. I bit creepy thinking about it, but we're happy it is slowly disappearing. They come and gnaw the bones in the dark. I've never seen one in the daytime. I could tell by the tracks, that one of them chewed off the head, dragged it away. Then it picked it up and dropped it a little further away. FInally, they dragged it up the hill, dropped it beside the fence, the somehow got it through the fence wire, and trotted across the highway.

Buster did a deer carcass inspection with me on March 7th. I hope the smell of the coyote and wolf was a good lesson for him. He was out all night March 10th.
March 9th, the crows are still having food fights, chasing others away. With the warmer temperatures, the carcass has been melting out of its snow pile. We had 5cm snow last night, but all the critters that feed on it go at it, unburying after every snowfall. The fur lies scattered about.
Mar. 9 - hind and front legs still remain.
The stomach, full of food.

March 10th

And the good news, finally, March 10th, the skeleton and front and hind legs are gone.
There was much action, judging by the tracks. All that was left was the stomach with deer food.
And lots of bits of fur. It's quite coarse, their fur. Bambi has been recycled.

It looked as if several coyotes and the wolf came by. There were tracks leading off into the wetland, down the gully. Also, a larger wolf track heading across the highway, taking parts home. The crows were squawking all afternoon, ticked off that their daily meal has been stolen in the night.
Stomach on upper right,
dragged away

Canine evidence

After the melt down, the crows have been after the bits of hide and the stomach contents. March 17. 


Christine said...

It's an interesting contemplation of life and death, and you forgot about good genes, a big part.

Hilary said...

Oh my.. that would be hard to look at day after day. We watched a hawk work away at a blue jay today .. and that was disturbing enough. I can't imagine seeing one of those beauties dead on my property. Still, I do totally get that it's nature and that it doesn't discriminate. I still have a little too much Disney in me. RIP, Bambi.