Baby the Pleasant Ridge Deer Enjoying Bloomfield Hills Life
(Crystal A. Proxmire, Aug. 25, 2016)
Bloomfield Hills, MI – Baby the Deer may be living large in the safety of her posh wire-fenced enclosure at the E. L. Johnson Nature Center after her fifteen seconds of national news fame, but the 2-year-old White Tail does not seem to have forgotten the loving spirit that landed her there in the first place.
Baby is not just any deer. She’s Baby the Pleasant Ridge Deer, a determined little doe that captured the hearts of the community that coordinated her protection and care. In 2014 she was born in a patch of hostas in a Pleasant Ridge backyard.
The community rallied around the mother and daughter, setting up shelters and bringing them food. They posted locations on Facebook and sent cars out to corral her if she wandered too far from the core of the little .57 square mile suburb. Joggers soon found themselves with a curious four-legged running mate. But the deer also kept a distance, and certainly could not be captured. But the neighbors knew that if they were to survive they should not be wandering around near I-696 and Woodward.
The City began to research deer rescues and how other suburban cities handle deer in their neighborhoods. While the research was happening, Baby’s mother was struck by a car on Woodward, leaving the newborn an orphan.
The oc115 and other media outlets shared the story of Baby the Deer in hopes of a solution.
And that’s where the E. L. Johnson Nature Center came in.
The center, located at 3325 Franklin Rd, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302 in Bloomfield Hills, had recently had one of their deer pass away. The center has a pen built for two, so after a shot in the rear with a dart gun tranquilizer, Baby was taken to her new home.
Dan Badgley manages the Johnson Nature Center.
“Baby is doing really well,” Badgley said. “She is healthy and gets along with other deer – and people.” He added that having deer at the center “gives people a chance to see deer up close.”
When Baby arrived in Bloomfield Hills, she met her pen-mate Summer, who is also a rescued orphan. The two got along splendidly as they frolicked among the structures in the pen and sniffed the hands of people coming to take their pictures and offer them fistfuls of vegetables.
But Baby’s new friend was restless, and according to a sign at the property, Summer escaped late last year for about six months.
And now the pair of female deer are no longer alone in their pen.
Summer returned to the enclosure in January, and in late May she gave birth to triplets.
A study conducted in Cleveland Metroparks has monitored Whitetail births since 1998. They found that most deer tend to have twins. “Twins re the norm with 68% of does bearing twins, 23% having single births, and approximately 4.5% bearing triplets. 4.5% of yearlings or older have not produced fawns.”
“Since our pen is too small for five adult deer and we are only licensed for two, we will be releasing Summer and her triplets in the coming weeks to roam the nature center property once again,” said a sign at the center explaining the unlikely family. “We believe they will remain here, though they are free to leave if they choose. Young deer usually spend the first year or more with their mother. We will eventually obtain another orphaned fine when one becomes available.”
Summer and her fawns are more shy than Baby the Deer, but he Pleasant Ridge native happily comes to the fence to get petted by visiting humans and to lick their hands and faces in return.
The fawns do not have names since they are only temporary guests. They mainly hide in the taller branches stacked in the middle of the pen, or the little shelter.
From a muddy little path around the perimeter of the pen, visitors like the Mahoney Family of Troy love being able to come to the center to connect with Baby. Lucy, Leo and Fiona love being able to see the deer and feed them sticks of celery and carrots.
“We’ve come a couple of times before,” said Susie Mahoney as the children were busy trading smiles with their gentle woodland friend. “We live on the West Side of Troy and we see deer all the time. The kids are curious and they wanted to know more about deer so being here, in the middle of a wooded area and seeing them up close, is so good for them. There is just something about being in nature and taking the time to connect,” she said.
Summer and the fawns could be released into the wild soon, leaving Baby to her lonesome and a vacancy for one more deer.
Though she will be alone in the pen for a time, it’s unlikely that the doe will feel lonely. Just to the south of her pen is a pen for wild birds. Beyond that is a lake with lush environment of fragrant grasses wildflowers and other native plants that provide a home for many wild creatures. Other deer pass through, as well as the humans that bring her food. Visitors from Pleasant Ridge often make the trip and sometimes post updates in online forums.
Baby also helps educate schoolchildren through the year. The E. L. Johnson Nature Center is owned and operated by Bloomfield Public Schools and is open to the public 7 days a week.
To learn more about the E. L. Johnson Nature Center, including how to donate to help support the center, go to http://www.friendsofthejohnsonnaturecenter.org/donatemembership.html.