'Private Life of Deer': At home on the range and backyards

Published May 10, 2013 at 05:00AM

“The Private Life Of Deer” 10 a.m. Sunday, OPB

In the suburbs there are no deer. There are only (intensifier) deer, with “intensifier” replaced by one of several words not publishable here.

That, at least, is the position of the Alliance of Americans Who Have Lost Perfectly Good Motor Vehicles in Collisions With Deer (full disclosure: founding member), as well as its sister organization, Gardeners Sick of Having Valuable Plants Eaten by Deer.

Members of these groups will find little comfort in the latest installment of the PBS series “Nature,” titled “The Private Life of Deer.”

It’s not clear who did the counting, but the program says that there were fewer than 1 million white-tailed deer in North America a century ago, whereas now there are almost 30 million. No wonder we can’t drive down the street without literally running into one.

And apparently there is nothing we can do about it. Deer are shown vaulting over 6-foot fences, shrugging at barking dogs and not merely ignoring silhouette cutouts of coyotes, but actually licking them. Just as alarming, they are also shown engaging in mating rituals.

“Amazingly, a female whitetail can become a mother by the time she’s just 9 months old,” the narrator says. “No other large mammal can reproduce so soon.”

The program has some fun with deer cams and by making citizen nature photographers out of some residents of Cayuga Heights, N.Y., where deer are absurdly plentiful.

Describing what happens when deer meet suburban garden, one woman there says, “It’s almost like watching them come into a buffet.”

The program includes asides about two strikingly gorgeous types of deer, white ones and the miniature deer found on islands in the Florida Keys. What it doesn’t include is an in-depth look at ways to control the deer population. Some options aren’t pleasant, and “Nature” isn’t one to let unpleasantness intrude on natural beauty.