Deer have taken to ringing doorbells in one region of Ontario and then fleeing into the night before the owner of the house comes outside. The strange behavior isn’t the set up to a bad barroom joke, but rather the latest episode of strange animal behavior striking a few households with one woman receiving more than her fair share of the prank. Why would a deer ring a doorbell? And how would it figure it out even if it did want to?
Those in urban communities may have the occasional interaction with a raccoon knocking over trash can lids and eating the contents, or of stray cats leaping up on window sills to anger dogs and wake you up in the middle of the night, but the idea of a deer engaging in a common freshman tradition of pranks seems far too fantastic to be believed. And yet Rose Allin of Kenora, Ontario is dealing with precisely that. Deer are coming up to her house, ringing her doorbell, and then fleeing into the darkness to watch. It’s not hard to imagine them snickering to one another about it. Rose has even taken to modifying her doorbell to make it impossible for the deer to press. The deer, in response, shortly figured out how to unlock the mechanism and once again ring her doorbell.
While it is kind of funny, it seems hard to not sympathize with Rose, who reports that once she even confronted one of the females after ringing her doorbell. Rose says she opened the door and a large female deer was just standing there snorting and scratching the ground with a hoof. Her intention was to confront the deer, but instead found it standing menacingly and displaying what could easily be interpreted as an aggressive stance.
As a result of the massive deer populations around the town, a fine levied against anyone who feeds the animals has been instituted in order to decrease the interactions between the creatures and humans. Is it possible the deer ringing her doorbell realized that it summoned a human and that humans traditionally give them food? If so, this wouldn’t be the first species to be thusly affected. Bears in many state parks have been seen for years approaching humans because of past instances where the animals were fed or uncovered human satchels (and picnic baskets) containing an easy free meal. And the deer have adapted to the laws around Kenora which prohibit the discharge of weapons making deer hunting difficult for those not wishing to answer their doors with a bow and arrow in their night clothes at three in the morning.
There is another possibility to the bothersome bucks and the door ditching does. If one deer were to use the doorbell as a place to deposit pheromones located in the forehead, it is possible others would have likewise rubbed their own pheromones in a sort of turf war or by one particular deer to remark its territory. In this case it would just be a simple case of bad luck that its marking spot happened to be a doorbell. But if this deer dilemma is being brought about by the animals learning to adapt, we can only wonder why they would wish to wake up residents in Ontario in the middle of the night.