Sassafras the White-tailed Deer
Sassafras, a young female white-tailed deer, arrived at Cedar Run in December of 2003. She was discovered in Franklin Township when she approached a couple as they were walking along a road. Sassafras went right up to them showing no fear. They were quite surprised to see she was wearing a collar and a leash! The people called Fish & Wildlife who brought the deer to us.
We knew Sassafras was a yearling upon her arrival as she was rather small and still had some of her white fawn spots. Because she had been raised by humans and was deeply habituated, Sassafras could not be released back into the wild. She was gradually introduced to our other resident deer, Spike, and Sassafras has been fully accepted by him. She is very "food oriented" and loves carrots, apples, and popcorn.
Sassafras enjoys visitors and will usually approach the fence when people come to visit our deer pen. Many years ago, Betty Woodford named the first white-tailed deer to become a permanent resident of the Refuge "Sassafras". This gentle deer is her namesake.
White Tailed Deer Facts
- Now plentiful in New Jersey, but were nearly extinct 100 years ago
- Found in forests, swamps, meadows, farmlands, suburbs, and open brushy areas
- Eats twigs, buds, mushrooms, acorns, grass, berries, shrubs and garden plants
- Active year-round primarily at dawn and dusk
- Runs swiftly and is a strong swimmer
- Uses tail like a flag to signal others when danger threatens
- Males, or bucks, live alone and grow a new set of antlers each year
- Females, or does, travel together in small groups with their fawns
- Baby deer, or fawns, have white spots to camouflage them from predators
- Lifespan: 10 years in the wild, 20 years in captivity
Links to more facts about white-tailed deer