Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Game Warden Files--Oh, Deer!

One thing ECOs encounter all too frequently is well-meaning but ignorant people who want to help what they deem to be animals in distress. Though sometimes it works out OK, more often than not it causes more problems than it fixes and often there is no problem except the person's ignorance. That's often the case with young deer that are rescued because "it was abandoned by its mother." Many calls of that nature came my way and in all but one, I got the fawn back to the spot of "rescue" and miraculously it was gone shortly; the other time there was a doe found dead on the road nearby. That fawn was taken by a rehabilitator and ultimately released.

The biggest problem is that the cute little fawn, if it survives untrained intervention, becomes a not-so-cute adolescent. When they become problems they're often released and become problems in the neighborhood. One June morning a Trooper and I had to deal with one of these.

The Trooper got the call from his dispatcher and was quite relieved when I called him on the radio a moment or so later to tell him I'd meet him at the complaint. We arrived to find a young doe--the previous year's fawn--making itself at home with a family. She would come right up to one particular family member and suck on his clothing!  It was humorous, but dangerous.  This is the result of imprinting; the deer thinks it's among it is among its own kind. Besides the injury it could unintentionally cause to people, it could also just walk up to the first hunter it saw and be killed--so much for the kindness shown by the rescuers.

The Trooper and I conferred and for lack of a better idea called our friend who owned the animal farm mentioned in other posts. He ran a legit business, kept his animals in good order and was always in good standing with our permit office. He arrived within about an hour towing the trailer. His idea was that the Trooper would hold a bucket grain while I grabbed a front leg and he grabbed a back leg. If we could get it into the trailer, he'd take it and pen it until we figured out what we were doing with it. There was really no plan B for this operation

When he opened the trailer, the doe took all our problems away from us. She walked over to the open door, peered in, then climbed in and helped herself to the grain. We closed the doors and I told the farm owner I'd see him later that day. This was absolutely the most easily solved wildlife problem I ever handled.

When I stopped at the farm, I found the doe in a box stall, contentedly munching hay from the manger, just like she'd done it all her life--she probably had.  Since we had no other viable options, I made a call to our licensing folks the next day and they amended the animal farm's permit to include one new white tail deer. After having been checked by a vet and suitably quarantined she became part of the farm's display.  Like the tiger, she became a lesson in how not to handle wildlife.

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