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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fossil range: Early Oligocene–Recent
Male and female Mule deer
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Suborder: Ruminantia
Infraorder: Pecora
Family: Cervidae
Goldfuss, 1820


Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. They include for example Moose, Red Deer, Reindeer, Roe and Chital. Animals from related families within the order Artiodactyla (even-toed ungulates) are often also considered to be deer – these include muntjac and water deer. Male (and a few female) deer of all species (except the Chinese Water deer who only have short tusks instead) grow and shed new antlers each year – in this they differ from permanently horned animals such as antelope – these are in the same order as deer and may bear a superficial resemblance. The musk deer of Asia and Water Chevrotain (or Mouse Deer) of tropical African and Asian forests are not usually regarded as true deer and form their own families, Moschidae and Tragulidae, respectively.



The word "deer" was originally quite broad in meaning, but became more specific over time. In Middle English der (O.E. dēor) meant a wild animal of any kind (as opposed to cattle, which then meant any domestic livestock).[1] This general sense gave way to the modern sense by the end of the Middle English period, around 1500. Cognates of English "deer" in several other languages still have the general sense of "animal – for example German Tier, Dutch dier, and Scandinavian djur, dyr, dýr. "Deer" is the same in the plural as in the singular.

For most deer the male is called a buck and the female is a doe, but the terms vary with dialect, and especially according to the size of the species. For many larger deer the male is a stag and the female a hind, while for other larger deer the same words are used as for cattle: bull and cow. Terms for young deer vary similarly, with that of most being called a fawn and that of the larger species calf; young of the smallest kinds may be a kid. A group of deer of any kind is a herd.The adjective of relation pertaining to deer is cervine; like the family name "Cervidae" this is from Latin: cervus, "deer".

The word 'hart' is an old alternative word for "stag", especially in a (British) Medieval hunting context.


Reindeer in Sweden
Philippine Deer in Luzon, Philippines

Deer are widely distributed, and hunted, with indigenous representatives in all continents except Antarctica and Australia, though Africa has only one native species, the Red Deer, confined to the Atlas Mountains in the northwest of the continent.

Deer live in a variety of biomes ranging from tundra to the tropical rainforest. While often associated with forests, many deer are ecotone species that live in transitional areas between forests and thickets (for cover) and prairie and savanna (open space). The majority of large deer species inhabit temperate mixed deciduous forest, mountain mixed coniferous forest, tropical seasonal/dry forest, and savanna habitats around the world. Clearing open areas within forests to some extent may actually benefit deer populations by exposing the understory and allowing the types of grasses, weeds, and herbs to grow that deer like to eat. Additionally, access to adjacent croplands may also benefit deer. However, adequate forest or brush cover must still be provided for populations to grow and thrive.

Small species of brocket deer and pudús of Central and South America, and muntjacs of Asia generally occupy dense forests and are less often seen in open spaces, with the possible exception of the Indian Muntjac. There are also several species of deer that are highly specialized, and live almost exclusively in mountains, grasslands, swamps, and "wet" savannas, or riparian corridors surrounded by deserts. Some deer have a circumpolar distribution in both North America and Eurasia. Examples include the caribou that live in Arctic tundra and taiga (boreal forests) and moose that inhabit taiga and adjacent areas. Huemul Deer (taruca and Chilean Huemul) of South America's Andes fill an ecological niche of the ibex or Wild Goat, with the fawns behaving more like goat kids.

The highest concentration of large deer species in temperate North America lies in the Canadian Rocky Mountain and Columbia Mountain Regions between Alberta and British Columbia where all five North American deer species (White-tailed deer, Mule deer, Caribou, Elk, and Moose) can be found. This region has several clusters of national parks including Mount Revelstoke National Park, Glacier National Park (Canada), Yoho National Park, and Kootenay National Park on the British Columbia side, and Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, and Glacier National Park (U.S.) on the Alberta and Montana sides. Mountain slope habitats vary from moist coniferous/mixed forested habitats to dry subalpine/pine forests with alpine meadows higher up. The foothills and river valleys between the mountain ranges provide a mosaic of cropland and deciduous parklands. The rare woodland caribou have the most restricted range living at higher altitudes in the subalpine meadows and alpine tundra areas of some of the mountain ranges. Elk and Mule Deer both migrate between the alpine meadows and lower coniferous forests and tend to be most common in this region. Elk also inhabit river valley bottomlands, which they share with White-tailed deer. The White-tailed deer have recently expanded their range within the foothills and river valley bottoms of the Canadian Rockies owing to conversion of land to cropland and the clearing of coniferous forests allowing more deciduous vegetation to grow up the mountain slopes. They also live in the aspen parklands north of Calgary and Edmonton, where they share habitat with the moose. The adjacent Great Plains grassland habitats are left to herds of Elk, American Bison, and pronghorn antelope.

The Eurasian Continent (including the Indian Subcontinent) boasts the most species of deer in the world, with most species being found in Asia. Europe, in comparison, has lower diversity in plant and animal species. However, many national parks and protected reserves in Europe do have populations of Red Deer, Roe Deer, and Fallow Deer. These species have long been associated with the continent of Europe, but also inhabit Asia Minor, the Caucasus Mountains, and Northwestern Iran. "European" Fallow Deer historically lived over much of Europe during the Ice Ages, but afterwards became restricted primarily to the Anatolian Peninsula, in present-day Turkey. Present-day Fallow deer populations in Europe are a result of historic man-made introductions of this species first to the Mediterranean regions of Europe, then eventually to the rest of Europe. They were initially park animals that later escaped and reestablished themselves in the wild. Historically, Europe's deer species shared their deciduous forest habitat with other herbivores such as the extinct tarpan (forest horse), extinct aurochs (forest ox), and the endangered wisent (European bison). Good places to see deer in Europe include the Scottish Highlands, the Austrian Alps, and the wetlands between Austria, Hungary, and Czech Republic. Some fine National Parks include Doñana National Park in Spain, the Veluwe in the Netherlands, the Ardennes in Belgium, and Białowieża National Park of Poland. Spain, Eastern Europe, and the Caucasus Mountains still have virgin forest areas that are not only home to sizable deer populations but also for other animals that were once abundant such as the wisent, Eurasian Lynx, Spanish lynx, wolves, and Brown Bears.

The deer in the Grove of Magdalen College, Oxford.
Running tracks of a white-tail deer with clear dew claw marks

The highest concentration of large deer species in temperate Asia occurs in the mixed deciduous forests, mountain coniferous forests, and taiga bordering North Korea, Manchuria (Northeastern China), and the Ussuri Region (Russia). These are among some of the richest deciduous and coniferous forests in the world where one can find Siberian Roe Deer, Sika Deer, Elk, and Moose. Asian Caribou occupy the northern fringes of this region along the Sino-Russian border.

Deer such as the Sika Deer, Thorold's deer, Central Asian Red Deer, and Elk have historically been farmed for their antlers by Han Chinese, Turkic peoples, Tungusic peoples, Mongolians, and Koreans. Like the Sami people of Finland and Scandinavia, the Tungusic peoples, Mongolians, and Turkic peoples of Southern Siberia, Northern Mongolia, and the Ussuri Region have also taken to raising semi-domesticated herds of Asian Caribou.

The highest concentration of large deer species in the tropics occurs in Southern Asia in Northern India's Indo-Gangetic Plain Region and Nepal's Terai Region. These fertile plains consist of tropical seasonal moist deciduous, dry deciduous forests, and both dry and wet savannas that are home to Chital, Hog Deer, Barasingha, Indian Sambar, and Indian Muntjac. Grazing species such as the endangered Barasingha and very common Chital are gregarious and live in large herds. Indian Sambar can be gregarious but are usually solitary or live in smaller herds. Hog Deer are solitary and have lower densities than Indian Muntjac. Deer can be seen in several national parks in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka of which Kanha National Park, Dudhwa National Park, and Chitwan National Park are most famous. Sri Lanka's Wilpattu National Park and Yala National Park have large herds of Indian Sambar and Chital. The Indian sambar are more gregarious in Sri Lanka than other parts of their range and tend to form larger herds than elsewhere.

The Chao Praya River Valley of Thailand was once primarily tropical seasonal moist deciduous forest and wet savanna that hosted populations of Hog Deer, the now-extinct Schomburgk's Deer, the Eld's Deer, Indian Sambar, and Indian Muntjac. Both the Hog Deer and Eld's Deer are rare, whereas Indian Sambar and Indian Muntjac thrive in protected national parks such as Khao Yai.

Many of these South Asian and Southeast Asian deer species also share their habitat with various herbivores such as Asian Elephants, various Asian rhinoceros species, various antelope species (such as nilgai, Four-horned Antelope, blackbuck, and Indian gazelle in India), and wild oxen (such as Wild Asian Water Buffalo, gaur, banteng, and kouprey). How different herbivores can survive together in a given area is each species have different food preferences, although there may be some overlap.

Australia has six introduced species of deer that have established sustainable wild populations from acclimatisation society releases in the 19th century. These are Fallow Deer, Red Deer, Sambar Deer, Hog Deer, Rusa deer, and Chital. Red Deer introduced into New Zealand in 1851 from English and Scottish stock were domesticated in deer farms by the late 1960s and are common farm animals there now. Seven other species of deer were introduced into New Zealand but none are as widespread as Red Deer.[2]


Baby fawn's first steps.ogv
Baby fawn's first steps

Deer weights generally range from 40 to 200 kilograms. They generally have lithe, compact bodies and long, powerful legs suited for rugged woodland terrain. Deer are also excellent jumpers and swimmers. Deer are ruminants, or cud-chewers, and have a four-chambered stomach. The teeth of deer are adapted to feeding on vegetation, and like other ruminants, they lack upper incisors, instead having a tough pad at the front of their upper jaw. Some deer, such as those on the island of Rùm[3], do consume meat when it is available.[4] The Chinese water deer, Tufted deer and muntjac have enlarged upper canine teeth forming sharp tusks, while other species often lack upper canines altogether. The cheek teeth of deer have crescent ridges of enamel, which enable them to grind a wide variety of vegetation.[5] The dental formula for deer is:


Nearly all deer have a facial gland in front of each eye. The gland contains a strongly scented pheromone, used to mark its home range. Bucks of a wide range of species open these glands wide when angry or excited. All deer have a liver without a gallbladder. Deer also have a tapetum lucidum which gives them sufficiently good night vision.

Female Elk nursing young

Nearly all cervids are so-called uniparental species: the fawns are cared for by the mother only. A doe generally has one or two fawns at a time (triplets, while not unknown, are uncommon). The gestation period is anywhere up to ten months for the European Roe Deer. Most fawns are born with their fur covered with white spots, though in many species they lose these spots by the end of their first winter. In the first twenty minutes of a fawn's life, the fawn begins to take its first steps. Its mother licks it clean until it is almost free of scent, so predators will not find it. Its mother leaves often, and the fawn does not like to be left behind. Sometimes its mother must gently push it down with her foot.[6] The fawn stays hidden in the grass for one week until it is strong enough to walk with its mother. The fawn and its mother stay together for about one year. A male usually never sees his mother again, but females sometimes come back with their own fawns and form small herds.

Deer are selective feeders. They are usually browsers, and primarily feed on leaves. They have small, unspecialized stomachs by ruminant standards, and high nutrition requirements. Rather than attempt to digest vast quantities of low-grade, fibrous food as, for example, sheep and cattle do, deer select easily digestible shoots, young leaves, fresh grasses, soft twigs, fruit, fungi, and lichens.


With the exception of the Chinese Water Deer, which have tusks, all male deer have antlers. Sometimes a female will have a small stub. The only female deer with antlers are Reindeer (Caribou). Antlers grow as highly vascular spongy tissue covered in a skin called velvet. Before the beginning of a species' mating season, the antlers calcify under the velvet and become hard bone. The velvet is then rubbed off leaving dead bone which forms the hard antlers. After the mating season, the pedicle and the antler base are separated by a layer of softer tissue, and the antler falls off.

One way that many hunters are able to track main paths that the deer travel on is because of their "rubs". A rub is used to deposit scent from glands near the eye and forehead and physically mark territory.

During the mating season, bucks use their antlers to fight one another for the opportunity to attract mates in a given herd. The two bucks circle each other, bend back their legs, lower their heads, and charge.

Each species has its own characteristic antler structure – for example white-tailed deer antlers include a series of tines sprouting upward from a forward-curving main beam, while Fallow Deer and Moose antlers are palmate, with a broad central portion. Mule deer (and Black-tailed Deer), species within the same genus as the white-tailed deer, instead have bifurcated (or branched) antlers—that is, the main beam splits into two, each of which may split into two more.[7] Young males of many deer, and the adults of some species, such as brocket deer and pudus, have antlers which are single spikes.

Most species of deer in the "True Deer" subfamily (Cervinae) have large, impressive antlers with several tines that are highly prized by game hunters and collectors. Four Members of the Odocoleinae subfamily whose antlers are also popular and sought after are the moose, caribou, White-tailed deer, and mule deer. The most impressive White-tailed deer antlers come from populations in Texas, the Northern Great Plains Region and the Great Lakes/Midwest Agricultural Region. The most impressive mule deer antlers come from populations in the Rocky Mountains and the deserts of the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico. The most impressive moose and caribou antlers come from populations living in Siberia, Canada, and Alaska. For Elk and Red Deer, a stag having 14 points is an "imperial", and a stag having 12 points is a "royal". Occasional individual red deer males may have no antlers: these are known as hummels, and they may grow significantly larger than normal males.

Cervocerus novorossiae


Piebald Deer

A piebald deer is a deer with a brown and white spotting pattern which is not caused by parasites or diseases. They can appear to be almost entirely white. In addition to the non-standard coloration, other differences have been observed: bowing or Roman nose, overly arched spine (scoliosis), long tails, short legs, and underbites.

Piebald Doe

White Deer

Seneca County, New York State maintains the largest herd of white deer. White pigmented White-tailed Deer began populating the deer population in the area now known as the Conservation Area of the former Seneca Army Depot. The U.S. Army gave the white deer protection while managing the normal colored deer through hunting. The white deer coloration is the result of a recessive gene.


The earliest fossil deer including Heteroprox date from the Oligocene of Europe, and resembled the modern muntjacs. Later species were often larger, with more impressive antlers. They rapidly spread to the other continents, even for a time occupying much of northern Africa, where they are now almost wholly absent. Some extinct deer had huge antlers, larger than those of any living species. Examples include Eucladoceros, and the giant deer Megaloceros, whose antlers stretched to 3.5 metres across.

Economic significance

Nicholas Mavrogenes, Phanariote Prince of Wallachia, riding through Bucharest in a deer−drawn carriage (late 1780s)

Deer have long had economic significance to humans. Deer meat, for which they are hunted and farmed, is called venison. Deer organ meat is called humble. See humble pie.

The Sami of Scandinavia and the Kola Peninsula of Russia and other nomadic peoples of northern Asia use reindeer for food, clothing, and transport.

The caribou in North America is not domesticated or herded as is the case of reindeer (the same species) in Europe, but is important as a quarry animal to the Inuit. Most commercial venison in the United States is imported from New Zealand.

Deer were originally brought to New Zealand by European settlers, and the deer population rose rapidly. This caused great environmental damage and was controlled by hunting and poisoning until the concept of deer farming developed in the 1960s. Deer farming has advanced into a significant economic activity in New Zealand with more than 3,000 farms running over 1 million deer in total. Deer products are exported to over 50 countries around the world, with New Zealand becoming well recognised as a source of quality venison and co-products.

Automobile collisions with deer can impose a significant cost on the economy. In the U.S., about 1.5 million deer-vehicle collisions occur each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Those accidents cause about 150 human deaths and $1.1 billion in property damage annually.[8]


Note that the terms indicate the origin of the groups, not their modern distribution: the water deer, for example, is a New World species but is found only in China and Korea.

It is thought that the new world group originates from the forests of North America and Siberia, the old world deer in Asia.

Subfamilies, genera and species

The family Cervidae is organized as follows:

Pudú, the smallest species of deer
Moose, the largest species of deer
  • Unplaced

Hybrid deer

In On the Origin of Species (1859), Charles Darwin wrote "Although I do not know of any thoroughly well-authenticated cases of perfectly fertile hybrid animals, I have some reason to believe that the hybrids from Cervulus vaginalis and Reevesii [...] are perfectly fertile." These two varieties of muntjac are currently considered the same species.

A number of deer hybrids are bred to improve meat yield in farmed deer. American Elk (or Wapiti) and Red Deer from the Old World can produce fertile offspring in captivity, and were once considered one species. Hybrid offspring, however, must be able to escape and defend themselves against predators, and these hybrid offspring are unable to do so in the wild state. Recent DNA, animal behavior studies, and morphology and antler characteristics have shown there are not one but three species of Red Deer: European Red Deer, Central Asian Red Deer, and American Elk or Wapiti. The European Elk is a different species and is known as moose in North America. The hybrids are about 30% more efficient in producing antlers by comparing velvet to body weight. Wapiti have been introduced into some European Red Deer herds to improve the Red Deer type, but not always with the intended improvement.

In New Zealand, where deer are introduced species, there are hybrid zones between Red Deer and North American Wapiti populations and also between Red Deer and Sika Deer populations. In New Zealand, Red Deer have been artificially hybridized with Pere David Deer in order to create a farmed deer which gives birth in spring. The initial hybrids were created by artificial insemination and back-crossed to Red Deer. However, such hybrid offspring can only survive in captivity free of predators.

In Canada, the farming of European Red Deer and Red Deer hybrids is considered a threat to native Wapiti. In Britain, the introduced Sika Deer is considered a threat to native Red Deer. Initial Sika Deer/Red Deer hybrids occur when young Sika stags expand their range into established red deer areas and have no Sika hinds to mate with. They mate instead with young Red hinds and produce fertile hybrids. These hybrids mate with either Sika or Red Deer (depending which species is prevalent in the area), resulting in mongrelization. Many of the Sika Deer which escaped from British parks were probably already hybrids for this reason. These hybrids do not properly inherit survival strategies and can only survive in either a captive state or when there are no predators.

In captivity, Mule Deer have been mated to White-tail Deer. Both male Mule Deer/female White-tailed Deer and male White-tailed Deer/female Mule Deer matings have produced hybrids. Less than 50% of the hybrid fawns survived their first few months. Hybrids have been reported in the wild but are disadvantaged because they don't properly inherit survival strategies. Mule Deer move with bounding leaps (all 4 hooves hit the ground at once, also called "stotting") to escape predators. Stotting is so specialized that only 100% genetically pure Mule Deer seem able to do it. In captive hybrids, even a one-eighth White-tail/seven-eighths Mule Deer hybrid has an erratic escape behaviour and would be unlikely to survive to breeding age. Hybrids do survive on game ranches where both species are kept and where predators are controlled by man.

Cultural significance


Deer are represented in heraldry by the stag or hart, or less often, by the hind, and the brocket (a young stag up to two years), respectively. Stag's heads and antlers also appear as charges. The old name for deer was simply cerf, and it is chiefly the head which appears on the ancient arms. Examples for deers in heraldry can be found in the arms of Hertfordshire, England and its county town of Hertford; both are examples of canting arms.

Several Norwegian municipalities have a stag or stag's head in their arms: Gjemnes, Hitra, Hjartdal, Rendalen and Voss. A deer appears on the arms of the Israeli Postal Authority (see Hebrew Wikipedia page.[10]

"Nature and Appearance of Deer, and how they can be hunted with dogs", taken from Livre du Roy Modus, created in the 14th century

Literature and art

Resting Deer. Moche Culture (Peru) Larco Museum Collection
  • In The Animals of Farthing Wood, a deer called The Great White Stag is the leader of all the animal residents of the nature reserve White Deer Park.
  • In The Queen, a 14 point "Imperial" stag plays a role in the film.
  • The Yaqui deer song (maso bwikam) accompanies the deer dance which is performed by a pascola [from the Spanish 'pascua', Easter] dancer (also known as a deer dancer). Pascolas will perform at religio-social functions many times of the year, but especially during Lent and Easter.
  • Deer are depicted in many materials by various pre-Hispanic civilizations in the Andes.[11]
  • Several German towns are called "Hirschberg", a name composed of Hirsch (deer) and Berg (hill or mountain).
  • The given name "Oscar" is considered to be derived from Gaelic, meaning "deer lover."
  • Among East European Jews, "Hirsh"—Yiddish for "stag"—was a common male name, and was among other others the name of several prominent Rabbis; in this community there was, however, no equivalent female name. In contemporary Israel, several Hebrew names for this animal are commonly used as both male and female names. These include "Tzvi" (צבי) and "Eyal"(אייל)—two synonymous words for "stag"; "Tzviya" (צביה) and "Ayala" (איילה)—the respective parallel words for "Hind" or "Doe"; as well as "Ofer" (עופר) and "Ofra"(עפרה), respectively the male and female words for the young of this animal—which are all commonly used as first names among the Israeli population. In addition, there are Israelis having as their first name "Bambi", derived from the well-known Disney animated film.
Cap Badge of the Gordon Highlanders
  • Among the native Tlingit of southeast Alaska the deer is a symbol of peace, because a deer does not bite, get angry and is gentle. When peace was to be made a "hostage" from opposing clans would be taken to the opposite clan of those making peace and each opposing faction would have a hostage, called Ghuwukaan in a ceremony lasting several months. The name for [Sitka Blacktail] deer is Ghuwukaan. Making peace is called Ghuwukaan Khuwdzitee or "there will be a peace party." A name given to the "hostage" by his captors would be with the term "ghuwukaan" added such as Aank'weiyi Ghuwukaan (Flag Deer) or Dzagitgayaa Ghuwukaan (Hummingbird Deer).[12]

See also


  1. ^ "". Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  2. ^ "Deer" Te Ara: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.
  3. ^ Owen, James (August 25, 2003). "Scottish Deer Are Culprits in Bird Killings". National Geographic News. Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  4. ^ Dale, Michael (April 1988). "Carnivorous Deer". Omni Magazine: 31. 
  5. ^ Cockerill, Rosemary (1984). Macdonald, D.. ed. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Facts on File. pp. 520–529. ISBN 0-87196-871-1. 
  6. ^ Deer - info and games Sheppard Software.
  7. ^ Oregon Big Game Regulations.
  8. ^ "Worst states for auto-deer crashes". Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  9. ^ The phylogenetic position of the 'giant deer' Megaloceros giganteus. Letter in Nature 438, 850–853 (2005-12-08).
  10. ^ "דואר ישראל – ויקיפדיה" (in (Hebrew)). Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  11. ^ Berrin, Katherine & Larco Museum. The Spirit of Ancient Peru:Treasures from the Museo Arqueológico Rafael Larco Herrera. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1997.
  12. ^ Haa Khusteeyi-Our Culture; Dauenhauer & Dauenhauer, 1994, UW Press.

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Southwest New Mexico article)

From Wikitravel

Southwestern New Mexico, United States, is the state's most diverse region, although not its most populous. It includes Las Cruces, second largest city in the state; the Gila Wilderness, a vast roadless area popular with hikers; and a great deal of desolate territory near the border with Mexico.

Sandhill cranes at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Reserve; Chupadero Mountains in the background
Sandhill cranes at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Reserve; Chupadero Mountains in the background
  • Catwalk [ [1]]
  • Ghost towns -- including Mogollon, Pinos Altos, Kingston, Hillsboro
  • Gila Wilderness


For purposes of this article, the southwestern region is bounded on the:

  • West, by the Arizona state line;
  • North, by Interstate 40 (on the route of historic Route 66), although a few features south of the highway are considered to be in the northwestern region;
  • East (indistinctly), by the western slopes of the Sacramento Mountains (White Sands National Monument is considered to be in the southeastern region);
  • South, by the Mexican border and Texas state line.

Note, however, that the area around Albuquerque and extending as far south as Socorro is considered to be a separate region, Central New Mexico, rather than part of this one.

This is a geographically complex region that has a great deal in common with the basin-and-range country of Arizona and Nevada from a geological standpoint. Much of it is mountainous, with some comparatively recent volcanism in a few places. The combination of rugged terrain and low rainfall has limited the number and size of cities and towns here, except in the valley of the Rio Grande, which contains most of the region's population, including the comparatively large (population about 75,000) community of Las Cruces.


English, although Spanish is the first language of some residents of the region. The presence of New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, with a reasonable number of international students, means that your chances of running into people who speak other major European and Asian languages are better here than in some regions of the state.

Get in

The only airport in this region with scheduled commercial service is at Silver City, with extremely limited commuter service to Albuquerque. The nearest significant airports are in Albuquerque and El Paso, Texas. Interstate highway 25 passes through the region north-south from Albuquerque to its junction with I-10 at Las Cruces. Bus lines follow this route, with some digressions into small towns in the region, but service is generally fairly limited. Amtrak's Los Angeles - New Orleans Sunset Limited [2] route passes through the region, stopping in Deming and Lordsburg.

Although the region has a long border with Mexico, (legal!) entry from Mexico is only possible at a few locations. The entries in the region itself are crossings at Santa Teresa [3] in Doña Ana county and at Columbus [4] in Luna county. Much more traffic enters from Juarez near El Paso [5] and heads north from there. There are checkpoints along the major arteries from El Paso/Las Cruces where the Border Patrol may check for illegal immigrants, smuggled goods, etc. They generally don't hassle travelers on routine business; don't break any laws and you won't have any problems there.

Get around

Drive; there is little public transportation in the region except in Las Cruces. Most Interstate, US and state highways are routinely driveable year-round by all ordinary vehicles. However, SR 152, one of the main routes into Silver City and the attractive mountains around it, has a number of hairpin curves that are enervating for drivers of large recreational vehicles. If you're in an RV and bound for Silver, consider getting there via a different route.

Thousands of snow geese take flight at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Reserve
Thousands of snow geese take flight at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Reserve
  • Southbound along the Rio Grande from Albuquerque in the central region (2 nights out):
    • Follow I-25 to Socorro on the southern edge of the central region, and beyond to the San Antonio exit. At San Antonio, turn south (right) on NM SR 1 and proceed to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Do this immediately after dawn, as the birdwatching is good first thing in the morning. Spend an hour or two on the loop road (fee $3/vehicle); have binoculars handy.
    • Continue south on NM SR 1 to a side road to Fort Craig National Historic Site. This ruin from frontier days will give you a sense of the desolate life experienced by the 19th-century soldiers in the (then) New Mexico Territory. There is a short interpretive trail. Return to SR 1 and continue south to rejoin I-25 and on to Truth or Consequences, locally called "T or C".
    • There is a small museum (Geronimo Springs Museum) in T or C that explains how the town got its curious name, with some other cultural artifacts. You can either stop here (M-S 9-5, $3 admission), catch a quick dip in one of the town's hot springs, or simply keep going south -- T or C isn't a great tourist site.
    • En route to Las Cruces, pause in Hatch to pick up some chile (see under "Eat").
    • If you have time, before getting to Las Cruces, digress to Fort Selden State Monument, another site preserving a 19th-century fort. Open 9-5, closed Tuesdays and holidays; $3 admission. If you've had your fill of forts but still have time on your hands, consider instead leaving I-25 at Dona Ana to cross the Rio and drive south to Las Cruces along local roads through pecan orchards. Either way, spend the night in Las Cruces.
    • Spend the next day in Las Cruces' several small museums, at New Mexico State University, or hiking in the Organ Mountains east of town. If you're ambitious, head over to White Sands National Monument in the southeast region, which is fairly close to Las Cruces. Either way, overnight in Cruces again.
    • When you're ready to move on, either leave the region via I-10 eastbound to El Paso or westbound to Arizona, or return to Albuquerque.
  • An hour south of Albuquerque, drive west from Socorro through remote and beautiful southwest region, driving on to Tucson or looping back through Silver City (0-2 nights out):
    • Leave I-25 at Socorro, enjoy the plaza and get some good New Mexico food. (Budget travelers: motels here can be cheap.)
    • Take US 60 west to Magdalena, an Old West town famous as the end of a famous cattle drive from Arizona.
    • West of Magdalena is the striking Very Large Array [6], radio astronomy telescopes spread across this broad valley on railroad tracks. Visitor center open 7 days, no charge.
    • At Datil, take NM SR 12 southwest into The Gila and Catron County [[7]] (New Mexico's largest by area). (Gilascapes [8], by a local resident, is full of updated information on this area of southwestern NM.) You'll cross the Continental Divide halfway between Datil and Reserve, which is the Catron County seat.
    • A few miles west of Reserve, turn south on US 180 through a forested area with great views of the mountains.
    • At Alma is the road east to the old mining town of Mogollon [9] (trailers not advised, nighttime travel discouraged). Mogollon is lively on summer weekends, quiet at other times.
    • Just south of Alma is Glenwood, a peaceful town with several motels and restaurants. A road leaves here for the nearby Catwalk [ [10]], in a narrow canyon above a cool stream; it's a spectacular place. (Be cautious of flash floods here during the summer rainy season.) South of Glenwood along US 180 is Leopold Vista, an expansive viewpoint on the west side of the highway.
    • Farther south of Glenwood, you can turn west onto NM SR 78 (watch for the sign!) which leads past the tiny town of Mule Creek into Safford and on to Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona. (Long vehicles not advised for 20 miles or so west of Mule Creek.) Or, stay on US 180 to Silver City.
    • From Silver City, you can go south to I-10, Las Cruces, El Paso, and beyond -- north to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument [11] -- or east along the windy and slow NM SR 152 to the almost-ghost towns of Kingston and Hillsboro, then back to I-25 and north to Socorro.
  • The Gila Wilderness, near Silver City, is a great place for hiking and backpacking.
  • So are the Organ Mountains, near Las Cruces.
  • Likewise the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument [12], north of Silver City. Open year round for day use; fee $3/day for individuals, $10/day for vehicles, Park Pass applies. A pleasant short trail (day use only) leads to interesting archaeological sites. Hot springs in the backcountry are reachable via other trails. Camping is available at Gila National Forest campgrounds nearby.
  • For the less ambitious hiker, El Morro National Monument [13], on the north edge of the region off NM 53, offers short hikes to a site of considerable historical and archaeological interest. Fee $3/day (Park Pass applies); there is a small, decidedly primitive campground.
  • another easy walk is 70 miles north of Silver City- New Mexico Catwalk National Scenic Trail. see: [14]
  • just south of Lordsburg is a curious ghost town with weekend tours with the family that owns it. Shakespeare [15] is one of those off the wall places worth a glance.
  • City of Rocks State Park, off SR 61 south of Silver City, has more hiking, through rock formations similar to those of the better-known (and more extensive) Chiricahua National Monument in Arizona. Small fee.
  • Rock Hound State Park, near Deming via SR 11, is that rarity, a state park where you are encouraged to remove parts of the park -- specifically, samples of the several unusual-but-not-precious minerals found there. Fee $4/vehicle; each visitor may remove up to 15 pounds of rock. Best at times other than summer, when it's beastly hot.


When you're done hiking, go for a soak in a hot spring. The geologically recent volcanism that's widespread in this region has left a legacy of hydrothermal activity and a number of satisfactory hot springs, some developed, some in nearly pristine shape. Some places with hot springs in the region are:

  • Truth or Consequences -- formerly called "Hot Springs," in fact; several developed, commercial springs in town
  • San Francisco Hot Springs on the San Francisco River south of Silver City. Caution: dangerously pathogenic amoebae have been found in these wild springs, and in fact have caused a death or two. Make sure not to get spring water in your nose here (good advice at any "wild" hot spring).
  • Faywood Hot Springs near City of Rocks. Lightly developed.
  • There are some other "wild" springs around the Gila Wilderness. Go exploring, and if you want some tips, a useful guidebook is Craig Martin's "Enchanted Waters: A Guide to New Mexico's Hot Springs," ISBN 0-87108-891-6. Note that this book is getting somewhat dated (1998), and ownership of developed springs, as well as access to backcountry ones, may have changed; inquire locally.


Las Cruces is the only community in the region with a significant number and variety of restaurants (although Silver City also has a few), but there's one seasonal alternative that's not to be missed. The small town of Hatch, about 40 miles north of Las Cruces, is the chile-pepper capital of the United States, if not the world. Great fields of chiles surround the town, which becomes a major center of chile commerce in late summer and early fall, with a "Chile Festival" [16] in early September. The tiny town can swell in size by a factor of ten or more (2,000 up to 30,000!) at Festival time. If in the vicinity then, definitely go to the Festival and see how much spice you can handle. Shops in Hatch have chile paraphernalia at other times of the year.


Las Cruces has some night life, particularly around New Mexico State University; see separate article. Otherwise this is a rural region with little in the line of watering holes. El Paso, Texas is large enough to have significant night life and is not too far from Las Cruces.

Stay safe

This is not a high-crime area, with possible exceptions for Las Cruces and along the border. All of New Mexico has trouble with drunk drivers, but this region has perhaps fewer problems than some others, with one notable, localized, seasonal exception. Every fall, when students return to New Mexico State University, there are misfortunes when incoming students who are underage for drinking in the United States decide to take advantage of the lower drinking age in Mexico, make pilgrimages to nearby Juarez to indulge, and have alcohol-related accidents coming home. Be wary if driving on I-25 near Las Cruces, and on streets in the city itself, in the wee small hours of this time of year. Otherwise there are no unusual driving hazards apart from reduced visibility due to dust storms on the bleak stretch of I-10 between Las Cruces and the Arizona state line.

Most other weather-related hazards here have to do with sun and heat. When hiking or doing other outdoor recreation, take extra water (and drink it), use sunscreen, and wear a cap or hat, preferably one with a full brim. If driving, have water in the car, particularly if your vehicle is prone to overheating.

You may be a long way from help if your engine overheats (or if you do yourself), and cellular phone coverage in the region is spotty. When you're in the remote southwestern regions of the Gila, there can be long distances between gas stations and other visitor services, so plan ahead! Gilascapes [17] has detailed information on communities and services.

This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Up to date as of January 23, 2010
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From Wikispecies


Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Mammalia
Subclassis: Theria
Infraclassis: Placentalia
Superordo: Cetartiodactyla
Ordo: Artiodactyla
Subordo: Ruminantia
Familia: Cervidae
Subfamilia: Capreolinae - Cervinae - Hydropotinae - Muntiacinae


Cervidae (Goldfuss, 1820)


  • Cervidae on Mammal species of the World.
    Don E. Wilson & DeeAnn M. Reeder (editors). 2005. Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed).

Vernacular name

Diné bizaad: Bįįh
English: Deer
Esperanto: Cervedoj
한국어: 사슴과
Հայերեն: Եղջերուներ
Hrvatski: Jeleni
Nederlands: Hertachtigen
日本語: シカ科
Português: Cervídeos
Svenska: Hjortdjur
Türkçe: Geyikgiller
Українська: Оленеві
中文: 鹿科
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Cervidae on Wikimedia Commons.

Simple English

Fossil range: Early Oligocene - Recent
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Suborder: Ruminantia
Family: Cervidae
Goldfuss, 1820

Deer are a group of even-toed ungulate mammals. They form the family Cervidae. They are also called true deer.

A male deer is called stag or buck, a female deer is called doe, and a young deer is called fawn.

There are about 40 species of deer. They originally lived in Europe, Asia, North America and South America. Humans also brought deer to Australia and New Zealand.

Most male deer have antlers, which they often use for fighting,[1] but the both male and femail reindeers have antlers. The Water Deer has no antlers at all.



Deer do not make nests or dens. They find a safe and comfortable place to rest under low hanging evergreen branches. They stay close to where they can find food. In summer, they eat grasses, plants and weeds. In the fall, they like mushrooms and small branches. They do not store their food for the winter. If the snow is not deep, they use their hooves to uncover moss and leaves. If the snow is deep, they eat twigs and branches.

The doe usually has 1 or 2 fawns in the spring. The fawn can stand immediately after birth, but is weak. The doe will hide each fawn in a different place. They are camouflaged by spots on their backs.

Deer have many predators. Wolves, cougar, dogs and people will eat deer. They are always looking, listening and smelling for danger. They can usually run faster than their predators.


A group of Red Deer.
File:Moose in
A moose, the biggest deer.
File:Fawn and
A White-tailed Deer mother and her fawn.
  • Family Cervidae
    • Subfamily Hydropotinae: Water Deer
    • Subfamily Muntiacinae: Muntjacs
      • Genus Muntiacus: Muntjacs
      • Genus Elaphodus
        • Tufted Deer, Elaphodus cephalophus
    • Subfamily Capreolinae: New World Deer
      • Genus Capreolus
        • Roe Deer, Capreolus capreolus
        • Siberian Roe Deer, Capreolus pygargus
      • Genus Odocoileus
        • White-tailed Deer, Odocoileus virginianus
        • Mule Deer, Odocoileus hemionus
      • Genus Ozotoceros
        • Pampas Deer, Ozotoceros bezoarticus
      • Genus Blastocerus
        • Marsh Deer, Blastocerus dichotomus
      • Genus Mazama: Brocket Deer
      • Genus Pudu: Pudú
      • Genus Rangifer
      • Genus Hippocamelus: Andean Deer
      • Genus Alces
    • Subfamily Cervinae: True Deer, Old World Deer
      • Genus Axis
        • Chital, Axis axis
        • Hog Deer, Axis porcinus
        • Bawean Deer, Axis kuhlii
        • Calamian Deer, Axis calamianensis
      • Genus Elaphurus
        • Père David's Deer, Elaphurus davidianus
      • Genus Cervus
        • Red Deer, Cervus elaphus
        • Wapiti (Elk) Cervus canadensis
        • White-lipped Deer, Cervus albirostris
        • Sika Deer, Cervus nippon
        • Barasingha, Cervus duvaucelii
        • Schomburgk's Deer, Cervus schomburgki
        • Thamin, Cervus eldii
        • Sambar Deer, Cervus unicolor
        • Rusa Deer, Cervus timorensis
        • Philippine Deer, Cervus mariannus
        • Philippine Spotted Deer, Cervus alfredi
      • Genus Dama
        • Fallow Deer, Dama dama


Other websites

Look up Deer in Wikispecies, a directory of species
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