In recent weeks, strange deer that have strips of flesh and blood dribbling from their antlers have been spotted wandering around Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Bizarre Deer
The park uploaded a picture of one on Facebook, revealing it looks as terrifying as it sounds. In the shared photo, a deer that has bloody antlers is staring into the camera. The animal is seen sticking its tongue out like its licking its lips.
Seeing this can be disturbing, rangers confess, but deers that look like that are not ill or dangerous. They're involved in a periodical ritual that seems sort of disgusting.
In a Facebook post made on the 19th of September, the park wrote: "This time of year, you may see male white-tailed deer in the park sporting bloodied antlers, often with a stringy material dangling from them.
While it can seem jarring and painful, this is a healthy and painless process for shedding their velvet, a protective layer of skin tissue packed with blood vessels and nerves. The velvet is nutritionally dense and will sometimes be ingested by the deer, as seen here."
Deer's Mating Season
This usually occurs at the beginning of mating season - the rut. During this time, males scrape the velvet away on bushes and trees, the park reveals. The branched horns then get hard turning into the bony horns humans usually wants to see atop the head of a buck, experts say.
A strong set of antlers are valuables for males during mating time. This serves as a sign of maturity and health, and also a possible weapon for combating other males, as per the University of Missouri Extension.
When mating season is over, the antlers drop off "and the cycle repeats," the park service noted. People are not in danger, but the minds of people on social media are not calm.
Reactions from Social Media Users
The post which the park made got almost 3,000 reactions and comments on the day it was released, some facebook users called the picture "nightmare fuel" and others anxiously joking "the deer are secretly sacrificing people to their gods using their antlers."
Jennifer Lemming said it isn't surprising that the woods in fairy tales are Grimm.
John Zistler said he is still running, especially if the animal is licking its chops.
"I would've thought for sure it was a zombie deer," a Facebook user, Adrian Gonzalez commented.
It is known that Great Smoky Mountains National Park harbors white-tailed deer, which explorers usually see in places with open fields just like Cades Cove and Cataloochee Valley, the park says.
As per the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the species is about 3 feet tall and it weighs a whopping 200 pounds and has the ability to run 40 mph.
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