Thunder Bay

Rare, antlered female deer with twin fawns visits Thunder Bay yard

A woman from Thunder Bay has had a very rare deer coming around for a visit. Janice Whybourne, who lives on Gordonvale Street, off Arthur Street, has had a doe with antlers in her yard.

Kenora biologist says antlered female deer are rare, and generally fertile

Thunder Bay resident Janice Whybourne had a rare antlered doe with twin fawns visit her back yard in early August, 2016. (photo credit: Janice Whybourne )

A woman from Thunder Bay has had a very rare deer coming around for a visit.

Janice Whybourne, who lives on Gordonvale Street, off Arthur Street, has had a doe with antlers in her yard.

A doe and its twin fawns came to visit her property in early August to eat some apples off the trees, she said, adding that initially, she didn't notice anything different about the animal. 

Whybourne said she only made the rare discovery after photographing the doe while it was feeding with her young.
An antlered doe with one of its two fawns in tow, is caught by a trail cam in Thunder Bay. (photo credit: Janice Whybourne )

"My husband mentioned that he thought she had horns," said Whybourne. "So when I downloaded the pictures and zoomed in, I realized she did have horns."

Whybourne said the deer looked and acted like a doe, and she doesn't believe it was a buck.

"No, I can't see a male with a couple of fawns," she said.

Does with antlers do exist, but aren't common: biologist

Antlered female deer are usually high in testosterone and fertile, according to Kenora-based biologist Bruce Ranta.

"It's not unknown for does to have antlers, but it isn't common by any measure," said Ranta.

Ranta said according to the authoritative text White-tailed Deer: Ecology and Management, female deer with antlers usually sport short spikes covered with velvet.

"I believe the antlers remain in velvet, meaning they don't harden off," he said.

Ranta said he has only ever seen one antlered doe specimen out of the many hundreds of deer he has examined in northwestern Ontario.

It isn't common by any measure- Wildlife biologist Bruce Ranta

Whybourne said she has not seen the deer for several days, although they have shown up at night on a trail camera in the yard. 

"We always have deer coming and going," she said.

"'We've got apple trees, so they are [in our yard] all the time," Whybourne continued. 

"The apples are starting to fall now so the deer are in. We have had to fence our garden to keep them out of there."

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