April 26th, 2014
12:16 PM ET

How the Cold War affected...deer?

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Pundits have said that the crisis between Russia and the West over Ukraine is a symbol of a new Cold War. There's been much talk about old dividing lines: Russia has been accused of building a new Berlin Wall, Vladimir Putin has said he doesn't want another "Iron Curtain."

But did you know that those old Cold War boundaries are actually still dictating lives today?

Here's how. Straddling the border between the Czech Republic and Germany lies the largest protected wildlife zone in Central Europe. During the Cold War (when that border was between Communist Czechoslovakia and Capitalist West Germany), it was heavily fortified with electric fences.

Just as people were physically divided, a large herd of deer was split apart. A recent study of deer population used satellite tracking to follows the movements of 100 red deer, 50 in Germany and 50 in the Czech Republic. The fences have been gone for a quarter century and the land is open for migration, but researchers found the new generation of deer still respect the boundaries of the iron curtain.

According to the scientist who led the project, biologically it would make sense for a mountain range to be the natural barrier between populations of deer – not this invisible fence. But mothers pass on to their young a sense of where it is safe to go. The electrified fence was a no-go, and these habits live on a generation later.

Perhaps the deer are teaching us all a lesson – it can take a lot longer to break down barriers than to put them up.

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Topics: GPS Show • Last Look

soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. bobcat2u

    Two hunters were dragging their dead deer back to their car. Another hunter approached pulling his along too.
    "Hey, I don't want to tell you how to do something ... but I can tell you that it's much easier if you drag the deer in the other direction. Then the antlers won't dig into the ground."
    After the third hunter left, the two decided to try it.
    A little while later one hunter said to the other, "You know, that guy was right. This is a lot easier!"
    "Yeah, but we're getting farther from the truck," the other added.

    April 26, 2014 at 1:30 pm | Reply
    • banasy©

      I've met these two. They are exactly as described.

      Hello, dear man.

      April 26, 2014 at 8:34 pm | Reply
      • j. von hettlingen

        The deer are not ideologically indoctrinated. They are just very conservative in their habits. What is remarkable is that the average life expectancy for deer is 15 years and none living now would have encountered the barrier.

        April 27, 2014 at 11:30 am |
    • Igor

      I am glad Mr. Zakaria directed attention to animals instead of writing one sided articles. As a compensation for this one-sededness in the past I dare to ask Mr. Zakaria for a favor: Since CNN does not let me post my historical analysis of present Ukraine crisis in a comment forum, I would appreciate if Mr. Zakaria finds my e-mail to CNN with attached article: Historic time loop and will we get out of it? This article explains most important episodes in the history of Ukraine/Russia and highlights the role of the West in provoking current crisis. It would be fair if CNN, once in a while, publishes something in disagreement with official CNN position.

      April 30, 2014 at 2:04 pm | Reply
  2. bobcat2u

    There were these three American Indians sitting around this campfire one night, discussing where their parents got their names from.
    The first Indian said, "My parents decided to call me Jumping Deer because when they were conceiving me, a deer went jumping over them."
    The second Indian said, "My parents named me Running Waterfall because when I was conceived, they were next to a waterfall."
    The third Indian said, "This is really strange. My parents also named me after something that happened when I was conceived. They named me Broken Condom..."

    April 26, 2014 at 1:36 pm | Reply
    • Thoreo

      It's supposed to be broken rubber! You didn't even tell the joke right!

      April 28, 2014 at 11:36 pm | Reply
  3. bobcat2u

    Two hunters went moose hunting every winter without success. Finally, they came up with a fool-proof plan. They got a very authentic cow moose costume and learned the mating call of a cow moose. The plan was to hide in the costume, lure the bull, then come out of the costume and shoot the bull. They set themselves up on the edge of a clearing, donned their costume, and began to give the moose love call. Before long, their call was answered as a bull came crashing out of the forest and into the clearing. When the bull was close enough, the guy in front said, "Okay, lets get out and get him." After a moment that seemed like an eternity, the guy in the back shouted, "The zipper is stuck! What are we going to do!?" The guy in the front says, "Well, I don't know how about you but I'm going to start nibbling grass."

    April 26, 2014 at 1:41 pm | Reply
  4. bobcat2u

    The scene: Soviet War College.

    Lecturer: In today’s exercise you are in command of a tank division which has just broken through NATO lines in Western Europe. Your Intelligence officer reports a large concentration of German troops on your right flank and what is believed to be an American mechanised division on your left.

    Which do you attack?

    Bright spark student: The Germans. If you look at the map….

    Lecturer: No, you must fight the Americans first

    BSS: But sir, tactically it would be preferable to…

    Lecturer: No no no. You must learn you are in the Russian army now. In the Russian Army we always put business before pleasure.

    April 26, 2014 at 1:46 pm | Reply
  5. chrissy

    Hes alive!!! Lol welcome back @ bobcat! And ty.

    April 26, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Reply
  6. dazzle ©

    Two of my favorite people. Bobcat your jokes make more sense than this article.

    April 26, 2014 at 6:41 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      @ chrissy:
      posts crossed, and dazzle meant you.
      @ dazzle:
      Hi there. I always love you.

      April 26, 2014 at 6:45 pm | Reply
      • banasy©

        Not even a subpar effort, Hagen. You sound inebriated. You cannot imitate JIF.

        April 26, 2014 at 8:32 pm |
  7. ✠RZ✠

    "Something there is that doesn't love a wall,........ Good fences, make good neighbours".
    Mending Wall,
    Robert Frost.

    How is it that dumb deer can get along perfectly well with or without a fence between them, but intelligent humans still wage war even when oceans apart?

    April 26, 2014 at 7:44 pm | Reply
    • banasy©

      Makes you wonder who the real dumb animals are.

      April 26, 2014 at 9:08 pm | Reply
      • George Patton

        Dumb animals? Well wonder no more, Puttin and of course our very own, G.W. Bush.

        April 26, 2014 at 10:16 pm |
      • banasy©

        If you wish. It's spelled P-u-t-i-n, by the way.

        April 26, 2014 at 10:35 pm |
  8. The GOP Prayer

    The GOP Prayer/Mantra/Solution: Dear God...With your loving kindness, help us to turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Female, and Gay people into slaves. Then, with your guidance and compassion, we will whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Male, and Straight. Or until they are dead. God...Grant us the knowledge to then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military during the next "unfunded/off-the-books" war. God...Give us the strength during our speeches to repeatedly yell........TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!!!..........and........GET RID OF SS AND MEDICARE!!!
    In your name we prey (purposely misspelled, or is it?)........Amen

    April 26, 2014 at 7:53 pm | Reply
  9. THORN

    sad comments really, when an interesting conversation could be had regarding imprinting.

    April 27, 2014 at 12:12 pm | Reply
    • banasy©

      Leaf the way.

      April 27, 2014 at 5:52 pm | Reply
      • banasy©

        *Lead the way.

        April 27, 2014 at 7:24 pm |
  10. bobcat2u

    Joe had asked Bob to help him out with the deck after work, so Bob just went straight over to Joe's place. When they got to the door, Joe went straight to his wife, gave her a hug and told her how beautiful she was and how much he had missed her at work. When it was time for supper, he complimented his wife on her cooking, kissed her and told her how much he loved her.

    Once they were working on the deck, Bob told Joe that he was surprised that he fussed so much over his wife. Joe said that he'd started this about six months ago, it had revived their marriage, and things couldn't be better. Bob thought he'd give it a go. When he got home, he gave his wife a massive hug, kissed her and told her that he loved her. His wife burst into tears.

    Bob was confused and asked why she was crying. She said, "This is the worst day of my life. First, little Billy fell off his bike and twisted his ankle. Then, the washing machine broke and flooded the basement. And now, you come home drunk!"

    April 27, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Reply
  11. amazed by your insight, Fareed!

    That short segment about the deer, that still today, a generation later, they instinctively are not crossing the old Czech/German invisible border almost made me cry when you summed it up by saying that it often takes much longer to break down barriers than it did to put them up. That analogy applies to everything, including interpersonal relationships, and one of the most poignant and definitive things you have ever said about anything.

    Well done!

    April 27, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Reply
  12. chrissy

    Lmao @ Joey if your apologising because you thought you said you always loved me but you meant it for dazzle you didnt have to. I didnt see it so it mustve been deleted.

    April 28, 2014 at 2:38 am | Reply
  13. resident

    As long as these people insist on living in the past nothing will ever change and people will continue dying for nothing.

    April 28, 2014 at 11:31 am | Reply
  14. Trevor

    BF Skinner is grinning somewhere

    April 28, 2014 at 5:23 pm | Reply
  15. sgtrock101

    The deer teach their young where it is, or is not, safe to go. At least the deer are teachable.

    April 28, 2014 at 10:32 pm | Reply
  16. 100 % ETHIO

    So,...the new generation deers are jew. They were found spying, to cause civil wars between Russia and the West. And, they were told, to identified themselves immediately, register or leave the Country.

    Enemies among US, anti-Christ.

    April 28, 2014 at 11:15 pm | Reply
    • banasy©

      Are you quite alright? Your post seems to indicate that deer are somehow Semitic.

      And you do know that was a hoax, right? Good rule of thumb: before you post, Snopes.

      April 30, 2014 at 2:57 pm | Reply

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