Although it is too soon to say whether widespread stay-at-home orders will have a significant effect on wildlife populations, sightings of wild animals in suburban and urban settings are popping up regularly on social media platforms. Photographer Aaron Geller was startled to stumble across a sizeable herd of white-tailed deer clustered on a suburban lawn in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan recently. 

“I was really caught off-guard. You know, the streets are empty, there’s no one about, and suddenly there are 25 deer ... trying to cross in front of me," Geller told a local news outlet. He uploaded a clip of the encounter to Facebook earlier this month where it received thousands of views. This is the first time Geller has come across a large herd of deer in the city and he's certain that the nationwide lockdown regulations have something to do with it. "It doesn’t take very long for nature to start reclaiming,” he told MLive.

Others were quick to point out that Michigan has an abundance of white-tailed deer and sightings in the suburbs are not uncommon. "I lived in Michigan [for] half my life. I saw this a number of times in cities and neighbourhoods ... nothing new. Deer are all over lower Michigan," one commenter stated on YouTube. The ungulates are found in every county in the state and this is not the first time that Michigan residents have enjoyed close encounters. Just last year a particularly unfazed buck was filmed hanging out with holiday makers in Saugatuck Dunes State Park southwest of Grand Rapids.

White-tailed deer are the most widespread wild ungulates in the Americas and are considered a nuisance in some areas. In lower Michigan where shelter and food are likely to be available even in the colder months, a healthy population of resident deer can be found year round. The antelope dine on a variety of food from fresh shoots and leaves to legumes and grasses. While it's difficult to say for certain whether or not quieter streets enticed these deer to explore the suburbs, we anticipate more sightings like this as people turn to nature for inspiration during these uncertain times.

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