Game warden: Leave injured deer alone

November 24, 2012

It may be a tough concept to grasp, but a deer that has been downed by an injury is not crying out for your help.

It’s still a wild animal – with hooves sharp enough to put a major gash in your leg. And it wants you to stay away. Even if its hooves don’t slash you, a powerful kick from the animal will make you wish you’d kept your distance.

That’s good safety advice from Texas Parks and Wildlife Hood County Game Warden Deshanna Creager. This time of year, the breeding season – known as “the rut” – is in full swing for the whitetail deer found in this area.

That means the deer not only are quite active, but also distracted.

“Bucks are not paying attention to anything,” Creager said. “When the scent of a receptive female is in the air, buck deer can lose their natural sense of caution. This causes them to come in close contact with humans and their vehicles.”

Creager said it’s important for members of the public not to disturb a down deer – whether it may appear to be sick or injured, or is suspected to be orphaned. Instead, leave it alone.

If a deer is severely injured after being struck by a vehicle, Creager advised that you should call the non-emergency number for the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction if Animal Control is not open. That would be the Hood County Sheriff’s Office (817-579-3316) outside the Granbury city limits, or the Granbury Police Department (817-573-2648) within the city.

If the deer poses a threat to public safety or traffic, call either Hood County Animal Control (817-573-4277, 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Monday through Friday) or local law enforcement authorities. But, Creager said, be aware that response from law enforcement may not always be available for injured deer.

“The general public should not attempt to approach or handle any whitetailed deer, not even fawns,” Creager said. “Deer can cause serious injury to humans. Their hooves are as sharp as razor blades. Deer are so strong, and the last thing they want is for humans to get near them. So that’s not an option for us.

“Because human safety is always the first concern for law enforcement officials, it is not always possible for sick or injured deer to be moved or put down.”

Creager said that discharging a firearm in subdivisions or other populated areas is often impossible because of human safety concerns.

Injuries do not necessarily mean death for surprisingly strong animals like deer, according to Creager.

“Deer can survive and recover from fairly severe injuries such as broken and fractured bones,” Creager said. “These injuries often heal over time without any human intervention. They just have to be given a chance to do that.”

Creager advised that law enforcement officials don’t have the ability to use tranquilizers to immobilize deer, or to remove them for treatment.

“Since deer are large, powerful animals it is usually safer and kinder to humanely put down a critically injured deer than to expose it to the additional stress of capture, restraint and treatment,” Creager said.

More information on the topic can be found online at the Texas Parks and Wildlife website (www.tpwd.state.tx.us).

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