Julie Girado Turner took these photos of California Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus californicus) that frequent her home in West Golden Hills.

Deer are daily visitors to the Turner home, as they are to so many other houses that are located in what is known the urban-wildland interface, in Golden Hills, Stallion Springs, Bear Valley Springs, Alpine Forest Park, Sand Canyon, Water Canyon, etc.

The deer often come to feed, either on native plant materials like grasses, leaves, acorns or mistletoe, or they may help themselves to a variety of horticultural plants like fruit trees, roses and other ornamentals.

But the willingness of deer to tolerate being around human habitation confers another potential benefit besides food: it also reduces their chances of being preyed upon by mountain lions.

Deer are the primary animal preyed upon by mountain lions, and it has been estimated that an adult cougar kills about a deer a week. Unlike deer, however, mountain lions are usually not comfortable being around human activity, and most cougars avoid people and their barking dogs.

As a result, deer that spend much of their time around houses in the Tehachapi Mountains are less likely to be preyed upon than deer that live in wilder, more remote areas — like a bullied child staying close to teachers, or vulnerable inmates avoiding the activity yard.

And the fawns of these deer are more likely to survive to adulthood as well, so deer herds found in populated areas have grown or remained stable in size in the 40 years since Golden Hills, BVS and other areas started being developed.

The Nüwa (Kawaiisu or Paiute) word for deer is tuhuiyi, pronounced tuh-HOO-ee.

NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: editorial@tehachapinews.com.