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Deer in Griffith Park

Deer in Griffith Park

These three photos by staff photographer Con Keyes were published in the Dec. 9, 1979, Los Angeles Times. The accompanying text block reported:

They’re quick as lightning, these gazelles of the greenwood. And a little shy.

But with each other, in a lonely meadow or back in the brush where only a camera might intrude, they’re playful and loving.

“We’ve got about 100 head of deer,” said Joe Abata, 59, a ranger at Griffith Park for the past eight years. “They’re pretty tame. I’ve gotten within 100 feet of them.”

Anybody ever hurt them?

“No. No. They’re not that tame.”

But once in a while a coyote gets one. Abata finds its carcass on the trail. Or a car hits one. “Not often,” Abata said. “But when it happens, it’s in the early morning or late evening.”

That’s when the deer are most likely to come out of hiding to graze.

“It’s dry now, at this time of year,” Abata said. “They come down lower to eat the green leaves. You can see them. You don’t see the bucks too often. You see the does. And the fawns.”

But there are some bucks in Griffith Park.

“I saw one a couple of years ago that was a six-point,” Abata said.

The herd hasn’t grown much.

“It’s been about 100 head, give or take 10, for years,” Abata said. “And it’ll probably stay that way.”

So long as coyotes and cars keep taking their toll.

No additional caption information accompanied these images.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

Follow Scott Harrison on Twitter and Google+

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