Czech Deer Still Don’t Cross Into Germany Due To The Cold War

Samuel Reason | June 1st, 2018

Even though the Cold War ended over 28 years ago, it seems like nobody bothered to mention this to the deer.

Back in the Cold War era, the Iron Curtain stopped anyone passing from the Czech Republic and old West Germany: a huge electric fence. And it seems even after a quarter of a century the red deer still avoid the divide like the plague. Researchers tracked over 300 deer and saw that they are intent on keeping the old boundaries.

The scientists found out that deer are actually very conservative so they appear to just prefer sticking to the traditional boundaries: don’t worry they are not a herd of communist deer running around trying to start the Soviet Union up again.

What happened was that during the Cold War, the Czech-German boundary was just not possible to walk through. It was stacked with rows of electric fences and patrolled heavily by armed guards at all times. In 1948, Communists took power in Czechoslovakia and ensured this border was locked down.

Over the years about 500 people were killed trying to cross the border, and deer were no strangers to being electrified. It seems the knowledge of staying away from this area has been passed down for generations. Scientists confirmed this by tracking their movement with GPS collars for seven years. The deer definitely do stick to their Bavarian or Czech side and never mingle.

The two populations of deer are still completely separated by the border, the amazing part is that deer have a life expectancy of 15 years. This means none of them living today would have actually encountered the border, so the knowledge is being passed down. This is due to fawns following their mothers for the first few years of their lives, and developing patterns which they stick to for safety.

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