All manner of strange wildlife photos have been captured since North Carolina started a camera trap program, but the strangest yet surfaced this week on Facebook.
It features a deer smooching a raccoon dangling from a tree limb -- their dewy eyes glowing in the dark.
“Is this what is appears to be - a raccoon ‘kissing’ a deer? What an interesting photo!” posted NC Candid Critters on its Facebook page Thursday.
The county where the photo was taken has not been disclosed.
State biologists will likely never know what played out on that dark and lonely night the first week in November, but it’s clear they were hoping for guesses when posting the image on Facebook.
Curiously, response has been less amazed and more supportive of the couple tender affair.
“Don’t judge,” posted Ruth Bergstein Ray on Facebook.
“Strangers in the night,” added Kelly Hanner Candid Critters Facebook page.
Raccoon breeding season started Feb. 1, according to NCpedia.org, and the males are philanderers, seeking out multiple mates.
The species is also notoriously mischievous, warns the NC. Wildlife Resources Commission. That suggests the gullible deer was headed for a heartache.
“These handsome mammals are highly intelligent and very playful. In folk stories, the raccoon often outwits humans or other animals,” says the commission.
The photo was shared on a page that is devoted to the best of the images captured each month by camera traps posted in wooded areas across the state.
Candid Critters was created in 2016 to find out what types of wildlife were thriving in the state’s 100 counties. Discoveries have included proof of the rapid advance of armadillos into nearly 20 counties. Partners include N.C. State University, N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the Smithsonian.
The program has gotten national attention for finding unusual things in the state’s back woods, including 2-foot-tall squirrels, bears fighting and a photo of what some people insisted was chupacabra, the mythical blood drinking devil dog.