Cute as they may be, wild animals aren’t pets meant to be cuddled, fed, or cared for like domesticated animals. Even so, people regularly fail give wildlife the space they deserve, and these needless clashes can bring devastating consequences for everybody involved.
Unfortunately, a bizarre case coming out of Colorado proves that some people still have lots to learn when it comes to handling (or ideally, not handling) wildlife. According to a press release by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, a woman was out walking her dog when she was repeatedly gored by a neighbor’s illegal pet deer.
According to CPW, the deer stalked the woman before suddenly charging and goring her with its antlers. The woman escaped this initial encounter, but the deer continued to attack, repeatedly assailing her as she ran to multiple houses looking for help. It wasn’t until she finally slipped in between 2 cars in her own garage that the deer finally backed away.
The victim was thankfully able to recall this terrifying tale from her hospital bed. The deer, however, wasn’t so lucky. When officers arrived at the scene, the deer tried to attack them too, forcing officers to put the animal down. Veterinarians later found potatoes, hay, and other off-season foods in the animal’s stomach, suggesting somebody had been keeping the wild animal as pet.
The charging deer’s mysterious origins were eventually traced to a 73-year-old neighbor who admitted to keeping the animal as a pet for a year after rescuing it as a fawn. Officers charged her with illegally possessing and feeding wildlife and a $1,089.50 fine, but this seems like a slap on the wrist considering the damage this woman has caused. Although she may have meant well, the deer’s confusing mistreatment created a terrifying situation that put one woman in the hospital and caused the animal to lose its life.
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“We can’t say it enough: Wild animals are not pets,” said Frank McGee, CPW’s area wildlife manager. “Feeding deer habituates them to humans. They lose their fear of humans and that leads to these outcomes that are tragic for both wildlife and people. Injured and orphaned wildlife should be taken to licensed wildlife rehabilitators.”
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