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Santa's Little Helpers

Posted: December 25, 2017

White-tailed deer may not pull the sleigh but they help with delivery.

We have long suspected that deer have a hand or hoof in helping Santa deliver all those presents on Christmas eve.  Our working theory is that Santa enlists some of the locals to increase efficiency.  Who can blame him. He’s got a big job, limited resources, and a tight schedule.  Nobody knows the neighborhood better AND keeps a secret like resident cervid! 

For 100’s of years, Santa has had magic on his side.  But hold onto your hat Santa, we here at the Deer-Forest study have technology.  So we decided to program our collars to collect several hundred locations every minute beginning at midnight Christmas Eve.  

Since Santa’s reindeer are all female, we suspected if anybody were helping the jolly ol’ fat man it would be a doe.  And if I may quote my very insightful co-author, “females tend to work harder and show greater empathy so it probably was a female.”  And he was right!  

We’ve downloaded and plotted the data for each of our collared deer and what to our wondering eyes did appear but one of our does assisting Santa and his reindeer! 

Check it out!

Doe 1225 is from the Northern study area.  With almost half of Pennsylvanians living in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, she spends most of her time there before making the trek across the remainder of the state.  Then she returns safely home.  This has never been documented before!  

Since Santa covers Pennsylvania in about 5.37 minutes, he likely enlists multiple does.  We only have a small number collared so we were lucky to find even one.

We hope Santa was good to you this year.  But if he wasn't, we'd bet Doe 1225 had something to do with providing Santa that naughty or nice list too. 

Happy Ho-ho-holidays from the Deer-Forest blog!

-Jeannine Fleegle and Duane Diefenbach

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