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Cincinnati's backyard deer even like dogs

Saw this in a backyard in a very developed part of Cincy near Vine Street -- a deer hanging out with two pit bull mixes. Don't see that every day. I didn't have the right lens on the camera, but I only had a few seconds and at least I got a shot. 

I grew up in Cincinnati. If there were deer in the city, I never saw them. They are now everywhere. I even saw a dead deer a few years ago along I-75 in downtown Cincy. Even though residents are used to them, I'm still quite amazed to see how many are in the area -- it certainly keeps you attentive when driving around at night (there were nearly 500 deer-car collisions in Hamilton County in 2013, according to the state of Ohio).

What's going on? What's happening in Cincy mirrors the explosion of deer in urban areas across the nation. In Ohio, the thinking is that more native forests and habitat are returning (some after farms were abandoned) coupled with effective hunting rules that brought the deer herd back from almost nothing in the early 1900s -- plus a lot of tasty foods in an increasing number of yards (think suburban sprawl). There are coyotes, who may act as predators -- and, in fact, the coyote population increase in Ohio may mirror the increase in deer. 

As a side note, mountain lion sightings have increased in the Midwest in recent years and one was spotted in Jefferson County in southeast Ohio earlier this year. Black bears have also returned to Ohio in the last decade and I'm guessing it's a matter of time until the state has some resident cougars, given the hundreds of thousands of deer in the Buckeye State. Nice to see my home state getting back to its wild roots! 

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The above photo is ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without my advanced written permission. All rights reserved.