Toby is a male black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus) who was named after one of our volunteers who is a volunteer firefighter and has helped the foundation tremendously. California Fish and Wildlife brought him to us because he was illegally owned which lead to him being imprinted by humans. Imprinting is a biological phenomenon that occurs in mammals and birds when they are babies. In nature, young animals are raise by their mothers, developing a proper concept of their own identity. In captivity, this can develop with humans. When an animal is imprinted by humans they lose their natural fear to them. Without this fear, an animal may wander too close to humans and risk putting both animal and human in danger. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to reverse imprinting and cannot be released back to the wild. He is living out his life here, at Kirshner Wildlife Sanctuary, where he is receiving excellent care alongside his enclosure companions Wentz (Wallaby) and Cliff (black-tailed deer). This companionship fulfills all species’ instinctual need to be part of a social structure, either that of a herd (a group of deer) or of a mob (a group of wallabies) and keeps all three species at ease.
The black-tailed deer are most active during dawn and dusk. These herbivores feed on a variety of vegetation including lichens, Douglas fir, red huckleberry and poison oak. They have excellent hearing and smell. Their large ears can move independently of one another and they can communicate by leaving scent trails. These trails are produced by glands in the lower legs that give off pheromones or special scents.
Black-tail deer are native to the temperate rain forests of the North American Pacific Coast. They thrive at the edge of the forest among the underbrush and grasslands. Open areas provide little protection against harsh weather and predators.
IMPORTANT: Mother deer will often leave their babies alone while grazing. It is common for them to leave for many hours up to a full day. It is VERY important that you leave the baby alone and let the mother come back on her own time, even if the hiding spot doesn’t seem concealed. If you see an injured deer please contact the proper authorities such as California Fish and Wildlife. Most importantly, remember that California state law protects all wildlife native to California. It is against the law to remove any animal from the wild and care for them in your home.
Life Span in Captivity: 17-20 years
Weight: up to 140 lbs
Gestation: 6-7 months
Offspring per gestation: generally 2, 1-3 is normal
Habitat: Temperate Rainforest of North America