Are deer evolving to avoid human hunters?

December 18, 2013

I was walking by some ducks on a pond and once they heard me they all flew out of the lake into the grass where I couldn't see them. I was pretty impressed by how fast they became invisible. It was interesting how they all had this program in them, hear a noise, seek cover ASAP.

It occurred to me they may be evolving to act in different ways with humans now a larger factor. Perhaps years ago if a predator was coming upon them the best thing they could do was just fly far way as to avoid the land based predator. Now that humans have been hunting them, simply flying away leaves them vulnerable to being shot out of the sky. The better tactic for humans is quickly taking cover so the hunter can no longer take aim at them. This doesn't seem as sound a tactic if a wolf were hunting them, as they could track by scent to find the ducks in the tall grass. I might be all wrong, but I couldn't find any studies on this matter on the internet.

It might be interesting think of the new ways in which other species might evolve behaviour or physically traits to avoid the human method of hunting which is much different from other animals.

Deer for example have been bred to run from wolves, mountain lions, etc... the slowest ones being caught and the fastest ones living on to spread their genes. As their natural predators disappear and humans become their main threat, running fast will no longer as big an advantage as it was before. It's hard to outrun a bullet, but perhaps the deer who runs in the most erratic way will be most successful in avoiding the bullet.

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