Canadian Chinese Water Deer -
Ferus Hydropotes Canadensis-Inermis

Canadian Chinese Water Deer
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he bark of a Chinese Water deer could easily be confused with a number of prairie birds. Their size and evident canines have surely been responsible for several sightings of artic foxes in suburbs. In fact, most urban beasts owe their survival to misidentification and generally slipping through the taxonomic cracks.

Added to the fallibility of the human eye, contemporary Canada is host to so many species of deer, from marsh to mule and white-tail to red brocket, that it would be hard for most to correctly identify such an odd animal.

The Chinese Water Deer originally hails from the Yangtze River. Standing two to three feet at the shoulder with an average male weight of 40 pounds (five to eight pounds less for females). However what makes the Chinese Water Deer exceptional are its exposed tusks, which both males and females have. These tusks are mostly used to root for food and during the rut when males battle for territory. The CWD is a solitary beast, coming together briefly during mating.

The present Canadian feral population, it is assumed, derives from those descended from escapees from a zoo, not in China, but at Woburn Abbey in England. During diplomatic relations with China, England received several gifts of Chinese Water Deer, which adapted well to the climate of Woburn Abbey. There is evidence that the custodians of Woburn Abbey were less than diligent at keeping gates closed during World War I, allowing for a population to establish itself locally.

How the Water Deer made the trip to the Commonwealth of Canada is up to theory. However, it is known that the parents of Lance Sergeant David Hampton Alberta Regiment, killed in battle in September of 1918, did travel to near Woburn Abbey in order to view his grave. Upon returning to Manitoba, the Hamptons packed with them two wild deer, listed on Cunard ship records only as “two small deer; mating pair; £6”

Assuming these were the parents of a new feral species in North America, the ecosystem of Manitoba would be perfect for their expansion. Much of Manitoba is classified as the Boreal Shield. This is Canada’s largest ecosystem composed primarily of forest. The later success of breeding Milu, or Pere David’s deer, at Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, shows that these Chinese deer respond well to the Canadian climate.

This example of a Canadian Chinese Water Deer was reported as a “road-kill” accident in February 1989. Without the ability to repair the body, the head was preserved in mount form. This CCWD shows that the species adapted to the snowy environment by developing a thick shaggy white fur, making it harder still to spot in the wild. It is not known how many Canadian Chinese Water Deer exist in Manitoba, however since 1989 zero sightings have been reported.

To find out more information about Waterdeer click the links below.

Read more about Chinese Water Deer

Rescuing Canadian Wildlife:
Manitoba Wildlife Rehabilitation Organization

Canadian Atlas

Pere David’s Deer

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