Flour Bluff’s Deer Population: The Story Of The Bluff Deer
The Southside Light
Flour Bluff—If you live out in Flour Bluff or have driven around some of the neighborhoods in that area chances are you have come across them. For almost as long as most people can remember there has been at least a small number of wild, whitetail deer calling the Bluff home—but nobody knows exactly where they came from or how they ended up there.
Estimates on exactly how many deer there vary widely. Experts say that wildlife populations are inherently difficult to estimate because of their secretive nature and the difficulty of seeing individuals in a suburban environment where they can easily find structures to hide from view. But some estimates from local residents and wildlife observers say that 40-60 different deer could be living on the Bluff now. But where did they come from?
Dustin Windsor, the local Texas Parks and Wildlife Biologist has a few ideas. In a recent discussion about this suburban population of deer, Windsor said that the southern edge of Flour Bluff has a fair amount of open space that could support multiple wildlife species, and just beyond the power plant land, you have King Ranch property. Deer will range in search of open space and underutilized resources (food and water). It is no surprise at all that deer from the King Ranch could be venturing all over the Flour Bluff area.But that’s not the only place that the deer could be coming from.
Windsor notes that deep are fairly adept at swimming fair distances. He points to one example from Michigan where Fishermen have encountered deer several miles out in open water. One report even showed an island 20 miles from the mainland having a sustained population, so it’s obvious that accessibility to the Bluff is certainly not an issue for deer.
But why do they call Flour Bluff home? Windsor notes that deer exist in a wide range of habitat conditions and environments. He points out that deer are considered “habitat generalists,” meaning that they are able to survive in sub-optimal ecosystems with relative ease. They find food in suburban areas regularly, and have been known to survive in urban centers. They can live anywhere they can find a bit of “wild” land to eat, hide, and find water, Windsor says.
But then the question turns to freshwater sources. If food is readily available for deer, it is obvious that they would also need fresh water to wash it all down with. “Fresh” water for deer can be found in a wide range of conditions and qualities, says Windsor.
“Water quality is broken down into several groups: clean for human consumption, livestock quality, wildlife quality, and non-potable (listing in diminishing quality),” Mr. Windsor points out. “Anything less salty than brackish water will suffice, and any form of runoff or pooled rainwater will provide deer all the water they need.”
“They are adapted well to survive in arid climates, so drinking water is not in high demand until temperatures get pretty high, pregnant females begin producing milk, or the brush and wildflowers they usually eat become dry from drought stress,” he says.
One interesting fact that Windsor points out is that even in the most stressed conditions, a deer will need less than a total of 6 quarts of water per day to survive and the bulk of that will almost always come from their diet.
As far as the health of the population goes, they seem to be fine. Windsor points out that he is aware of a landowner who has seen them and felt the individuals that he saw were healthy.
As tempting as it might be for some, these deer would not have any designation that would protect them, except that hunting them within a developed area would be difficult and illegal since the Bluff is within the city limits of Corpus Christi, so it’s safe to say that these deer feel at least somewhat comfortable and safe there.
But over the past few weeks some motorists have said that the deer have been hanging out dangerously close to the roadway along Yorktown between Laguna Shores all the way up past Oso Bay. Cindy Morgan, an area commuter points out that in the early morning hours while driving to work she has had numerous encounters. Morgan hopes that the city would do their part to protect both the suburban deer population and motorists by placing a few deer warning signs around the area where they are common.
But as for the deer themselves, the stories of how they ended up here will continue and if you're lucky, on a nice morning or evening around the Bluff, you can catch a glimpse of a “Bluff Deer” as you are out and about.