Montclair, New Jersey is an area that woodland creatures of all sorts call home, and when walking on the campus of Montclair State University, it’s not unusual to run into squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks and even more so lately, deer.
Deer have always been a part of the university’s campus life, but as of recently, they’re taking over the campus not just physically, but also digitally.
@msu.deer on Instagram is the paparazzi page for campus deer. Lighthearted pages like this have been taking the campus by storm with new accounts popping up almost weekly, but @msu.deer is a bit different than most.
The page invites followers to submit their pictures and videos to be posted for the rest of the community to see. The account has almost 700 followers, which is increasing daily from its start in October 2021. The creator behind @msu.deer, who chose to remain anonymous, joked that they were just as confused by their popularity as the rest of campus.
“We didn’t expect this … there’s no reason that an account about deer should have, like, 400 followers in not even a month,” they said.
Montclair State’s community of animal lovers truly enjoys this account. Allie Leach, a junior film and television major, is one of them.
“I think it’s a fun way for us to connect,” Leach said. “I give props to whoever made the account because it brought a lot of [Montclair State] students together over our love of animals.”
Cameron Hill, a freshman animation and illustration major, agrees with that testament.
“I think it’s cool that they’re kind of appreciating the wildlife and everything here, too,” Hill said. “They’re always very respectful about the deer.”
Respect for these animals is fundamental to @msu.deer. As much as everyone wants to see and share pictures of these cute creatures, it’s important to the creators that students and anyone else taking pictures or videos take safety precautions.
The creators have grown up around deer and know the first-hand dangers of getting close to these animals.
“Although the animal itself might not seem dangerous and accustomed to people, so it’s not as violent, there’s still massive deer ticks on them,” they said.
The creators went on to stress the importance of not only one’s safety but also the deer’s when encountering one of these animals.
“I mean, we completely understand that sometimes [deer] do approach you at the amphitheater,” they said. “Someone sent in a picture of a deer walking up to them, and that’s totally [a situation where] you can’t do anything about it, but just don’t try to grab the deer.”
Many of the account’s followers are just as concerned about the deer’s safety and worry about the consequences one’s careless actions can have on the animal.
Daniel Nasca, a junior psychology major and follower of the account, submitted a video of a deer to the Instagram page in hopes others would take note of his respect toward the creature and do the same.
“I’m just hoping that students are responsible,” Nasca said. “I was pretty close to one [deer], but it was almost by accident. I just turned and saw one of them sitting under a tree. However, I don’t know if other students are going to have that consideration.”
The account creators think the university can help with keeping these animals out of harm’s way.
“There should be some sort of responsibility the university takes on because there is such an abundance and a literal family of these deer living on campus,” they said. “I mean, we promote a lot of stuff [about the coronavirus], like ‘wash your hands, do this, do that,’ but you have to be careful with the wildlife on campus, too.”
One way to promote safety precautions, @msu.deer suggested, could be via flyers or signs, an idea Nasca agrees with.
“I think it would be nice to have street signs so that drivers know to go slow for deer,” Nasca said. “[Or] maybe stuff on campus so students don’t interact with the deer directly.”
While these animals are cute and fun to see around campus, it’s important to keep both parties safe. Don’t let these precautions turn you away, though. Submissions to @msu.deer are still highly encouraged and very cute.