In the following context, I understand the meaning of "slops being wrinkle with a maze of new deer trails." I just don't understand why does the writer say that. In other words, I don't understand what the writer is trying to say. Is he saying that deer are migrating toward the south? Then why they do?

Since then I have lived to see state after state extirpate its wolves. I have watched the face of many a newly wolfless mountain, and seen the south-facing slopes wrinkle with a maze of new deer trails. I have seen every edible bush and seedling browsed, first to anaemic desuetude, and then to death. I have seen every edible tree defoliated to the height of a saddlehorn. Such a mountain looks as if someone had given God a new pruning shears, and forbidden Him all other exercise. In the end the starved bones of the hoped-for deer herd, dead of its own too-much, bleach with the bones of the dead sage, or molder under the high-lined junipers.

Context: Thinking Like a Mountain By Aldo Leopold

Also, in what group can my question be classified?

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    In the absence of predatory wolves, the deer population will grow rapidly. Presumably, deer prefer the south facing slope of a mountain because it receives direct sunlight in the daytime. The author appears to be trying to be poetic in his writing style with the highlighted text. Also, note that animals do not immigrate, they migrate. Deer may migrate south in the winter, but this is not a feature of the quote. – user208726 Jan 19 '17 at 1:26
  • So, why does the writer should tell us that fact? Is his point only that the deer population is growing rapidly in the absence of predatory wolves? – Sasan Jan 19 '17 at 1:35
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    Yes. He is saying that the cost of killing off the wolves is that the large deer population destroy the local habitat by eating all of the vegetation and leaving the mountainside barren of edible plants. – user208726 Jan 19 '17 at 1:37
  • @NWR -- I think you should promote your two comments to an an answer. – Malvolio Jan 19 '17 at 1:42
  • But the fact about eating vegetation comes afterwards. So, can we say that that particular part I separated is just about the population, not any other thing, such as migration toward south, and "south-faced" adjective is just implying the fact that deers' prefer the south-facing slopes? Also, is my question one of "meaning-in-context"? – Sasan Jan 19 '17 at 1:43

Why does the writer say, "slopes wrinkle with a maze of new deer trails"?

As Sven said, the south-facing side of a mountain gets more sunlight, which is a critical factor in cold climates. The deer are over-populated because the wolves are gone. The deer destroy the vegetation and the ecosystem loses its balance. "Maze" suggests a tracery reminiscent of a labyrinth. Now I'll explain "wrinkle": think of an old person and all the lines on his or her face, i.e. the wrinkles. From a distance, the paths the deer have tamped in the snow on the side of the mountain, seen from a distance, remind him of what a very wrinkled face looks like.

In what group can my question be classified?

Are you asking what tag(s) to give your question? If so, I think you chose a good tag.

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  • Do we need to bring in snow? And, yes, it was about tags. – Sasan Jan 19 '17 at 9:55
  • @Jooya - Thanks for clarifying about the tags. // I'm not sure if I understand what you're asking in the comment. If you want to know why I mentioned the snow in my answer, it's because without the snow, we wouldn't be able to see the deer tracks from a distance. – aparente001 Jan 19 '17 at 19:46

The deer are expanding their habitat north. The National Wildlife Foundation says that wolves are found in the northern, mountainous states of the USA:

Today, gray wolves have populations in Alaska, northern Michigan, northern Wisconsin, western Montana, northern Idaho, northeast Oregon and the Yellowstone area of Wyoming.

As wolves are extirpated, deer work their way northwards. So the south-facing slopes of those mountains begin to show signs of deer trails. The north-facing slopes won't have those trials initially because the deer haven't made it there yet. So the first signs of deer encroachment would be seen on the southward slopes.

It's like the St. Ives nursery rhyme, innit?

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    The dear have been on these mountains for thousands of years—they're one of the things that the wolves that live there have been eating for millennia. But when the wolves disappear, the deer overpopulate. I think NWR is exactly correct (in a comment above) that the writer focuses on the south slopes of the mountains because the south side is the side (in the Northern Hemisphere) with the best growing conditions (not taking into account hordes of ravenous deer) for plants, owing to its longer daily exposure to sunlight. – Sven Yargs Jan 19 '17 at 4:23
  • You added another possibility for the meaning of the sentence. And, with the fact you mentioned about wolves, I think this possibility remains considerable. @NWR – Sasan Jan 19 '17 at 10:00
  • The "dear" in my earlier comment are actually "deer"—although they may be dear to some. – Sven Yargs Jan 20 '17 at 8:26

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