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story.lead_photo.caption Sean Clancy, Paper Trails columnist

OH, DEER If you've ever spent much time walking, running or cycling through Two Rivers Park in west Little Rock, you are probably familiar with the herd of deer that lives around there.

They're usually munching in a field and keeping an eye on the strange, two-legged creatures passing on the paved path.

They have it pretty good -- lots of food, a steady stream of admirers and the only people trying to shoot them are photographers.

So where did they go when recent flooding covered the park and the surrounding area?

And did they know that the place where they live was about to be turned into a muddy bath?

Here's Ralph Meeker, deer program director for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission:

"A lot of what we think we know about deer and flooding comes from a 2011 study that the University of Arkansas at Monticello did on Choctaw Island Wildlife Management Area in Desha County.

The study used 18 bucks that were fitted with radio collars to help track them as the Mississippi River flooded.

"What it showed us was that as the river rose, they sought refuge on higher ground," Meeker says. "As the water receded, they ended up coming back within several weeks."

The Two Rivers Park deer, he suspects, did the same and likely ended up in nearby neighborhoods.

Perhaps the biggest clue for deer that it's time to head for the hills is when rising water overtakes their food sources and interrupts their normal travel patterns. Swelling rivers could also force predators like coyotes and bobcats into closer proximity.

"All of that causes them to move to places where they can find the resources they need to survive," Meeker says.

Flooding coincided with fawning season, so there could be an influence on the number of deer in flood-hit areas.

"Fawns probably died or females were stressed to the point where they lose their fawns, so it may impact some local deer populations," Meeker says.

As things dry out, the whitetails will return to their familiar stomping grounds.

"A lot of those deer will move right back down to where they were before," Meeker says. "They have a high fidelity for their home ranges."

HELPING HAND Little Rock singer-songwriter Adam Faucett makes a living with his voice, traveling across the state and country performing his songs of haunted beauty, but a recently discovered cyst on his vocal cords and an impending surgery will keep him silent for a while.

So a group of Faucett's friends, fans and fellow musicians are planning a July 14 benefit concert at the White Water Tavern in Little Rock. Donations will be accepted, and there will be an auction of artworks inspired by Faucett's music.

For information, visit whitewatertavern.com.

email: sclancy@arkansasonline.com

SundayMonday on 07/07/2019

Print Headline: PAPER TRAILS: In flooding, trail's deer likely hiked

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