Ask The Biologist

Ear Today, Gone Tomorrow

Ear Today, Gone Tomorrow

By Bob Humphrey

Your guess is as good as ours when it comes to this doe’s ear disfiguration.

QUESTION: I recently saw a doe that had the tips of both ears eaten away. Do you know what might have done this? I also have seen a lot of babies this year with scratches on their noses. — J. Ellis

ANSWER: The best I can do, which isn’t very good, is speculate. Given that the injury is to both ears, relatively similar and even and that it’s a young deer, I offer the following as a possible explanation.

Imagine this deer as a very young fawn and its mother leaves it hidden in the tall grass while she goes off to feed. Peak fawning often coincides with the first cutting of hay, particularly in northern states, which the snow in your picture suggests you are in. Young deer are innately programed to lie still rather than flee in the presence of danger. So along comes the cutter and while it’s blades are set high enough not to kill the fawn, they do slice off the top of its ears. Sound feasible? We’d certainly like to hear some other possible explanations.

As for the cause of the nose scratches, that, too, is hard to say without more information. Looking at your picture — in trampled snow, broad daylight and with at least one other deer present — I’m guessing this is at or near a feeder, which deer might be sticking their noses into, or where they might be feeding off the frozen ground.

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Copyright 2017 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2017 by Buckmasters, Ltd