National Geographic : 1992 Feb
Foraging whitetails easily clear fences into pastures, farms, and gardens. White-tailed deer are creatures of ineffa ble grace and beauty, with delicacy and strength and an uncanny way of disappear ing into deep foliage. Their elegance, though, is belied by a voracious appetite, and they easily get used to humans. Whitetails, so thoroughly hunted that they were a rare sight in the East at the turn of the century, have multiplied to the point that some people call them "hoofed rats." In bucolic Princeton, New Jersey, residents are reluctant to drive faster than ten miles an hour at night, lest they damage either an animal or their car. Pressure on habitat could have doomed these five species, but they are flourish ing-picking their evolutionary way along the verges of man's progress. As develop ment opens land, it provides new opportu nities. In the South, commercial pine forests were considered a poor environment JAMES CONAWAY is an author based in Wash ington, D. C. His books include Napa and The Kingdom in the Country. This is his first contri bution to the magazine. Free-lance photogra pher RAYMOND GEHMAN lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia. for many birds, including the wild turkey. But it has turned out that the open areas left by logging are ideal for the germination of turkey-friendly grasses. After having been nearly eradicated in New England and coastal states south to Maryland in the early 1900s, the wild turkey now occupies more territory in the United States than ever before. It abounds even in parts of the Northeast. Deer have also benefited from human encroachment, because they fre quently feed in meadows and other open spaces as well as in forested areas. Above the Chesapeake Bay, the call of From forest to fieldto suburbanyard, wild turkeys are edging closer to civilization.