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A white-tail deer stands neck-deep in a field of canola. (Tim Smith/The Canadian Press)
A white-tail deer stands neck-deep in a field of canola. (Tim Smith/The Canadian Press)

COLLECTED WISDOM

Thorns can't keep deer from their dinner Add to ...

This week, Collected Wisdom tackles the thorny question of what browsing deer can chow down on when they're feeling a bit peckish.

THE QUESTION

“I live in southern Alberta and have many rosebushes in my yard,” writes Holly Quan of Turner Valley. She wonders how the local deer can browse on her roses without, it seems, suffering any pain from eating the thorns.

THE ANSWER

Browsing animals have evolved systems to handle this type of material, writes William A. Rapley, executive director of conservation, education and wildlife at the Toronto Zoo.

“Look at the giraffe,” he says, “which has been able to thrive on acacia trees as a favourite source of food. These are very thorny plants and yet the giraffe is able to select leaves and consume them by working around the thorns. I have been able to observe, study and photograph this behaviour in Africa. The same is true of the cervidae deer and moose species in North America.”

THE QUESTION

Eric Morris of Montreal asks, How did the tradition of pouring Gatorade on the winning football coach start?

THE ANSWER

“The first reported Gatorade dunk took place during a National Football League game in 1984 when Chicago Bears superstars Mike Singletary and Dan Hampton dunked coach Mike Ditka with a cooler filled with Gatorade to celebrate a victory,” says Les Chaiet of Toronto.

According to ESPN, he says, the 1985 New York Giants popularized the act when Jim Burt dunked coach Bill Parcells at the end of a game, seeking revenge after Mr. Parcells told him in practice that he was going to be dominated by his opponent.

The Giants held to the tradition of dunking Mr. Parcells, most famously when they won the 1987 Super Bowl over the Denver Broncos. Mr. Parcells, “who didn't mind the Gatorade showers, was doused with more than 80 gallons of the sports drink over the course of that season.”

THE QUESTION

Is it still necessary to put those blue air-mail stickers on mail going overseas? asks Jim Hertslet of Toronto.

THE ANSWER

“The short answer is no,” Canada Post spokesman John Caines writes. The stickers, he says, denote “priority” service, which means “by air” in European countries. “But mail leaving Canada would fly anyway, so it is not necessary to affix the air-mail stickers. However, the sticker could increase the service level in the destination country, depending on the type of transportation they use for mail.”

HELP WANTED

  • “When I'm filling my coffee maker, I need to use enough water for three of its cups to get what I consider a decent-sized cup of coffee, which is about 16 ounces,” writes Peter Briant of Toronto. “I believe the instructions said they measure one cup as six ounces. So, when studies refer to X number of cups of coffee being either good or bad for you, what size cup are they using?”
  • “On Nov. 30, the Weather Network advised that the hurricane season had ended,” says Carl Kennedy of Dartmouth, N.S. “So what do employees at the Canadian Hurricane Centre do from now until July, 2012, when it will start up again?”
  • Everyone knows that Sir John A. Macdonald was a drinker, writes Maxwell Yalden of Ottawa, but what did he drink? Beer, wine, whisky? All three?

Let's hear from you : If you have the answer to one of these questions (or want to pose a question yourself) send an e-mail to wisdom@globeandmail.com. Please include your name, location and a daytime phone number.

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