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Deer found dead in yard, with leash around its neck

Outdoors

The following is a news release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

POCATELLO — The Idaho Department of Fish and Game responded to a call Wednesday morning from a Pocatello resident about a dead deer in their yard.

Calls like this one come to Idaho Fish and Game occasionally throughout the year — sometimes deer are hit by vehicles or otherwise injured and are found dead on peoples’ properties. Unique to this situation was the fact that the yearling buck was found with a leash wrapped around its neck, with one of its back legs through the loop of the leash’s hand grip. It was obvious that the leash had been intentionally strapped around the deer’s neck—either in an attempt to make it a pet or to otherwise harass the animal.

“This deer experienced a long, slow death,” says Regional Habitat Manager Anna Owsiak, who had participated in the numerous attempts to find and help this deer since March. “The condition of the animal was poor — it was obviously malnourished and its velvety antlers had been chewed off at some point. This deer has had to do its best to keep up with its herd, move through brush, escape dogs and other predators, and try to feed– with a strap impeding its every move.”

In the end, the deer had managed to step through the loop of the leash’s handgrip so that each time it tried to take a step, its head and neck were likely pulled down to the ground. Ultimately the animal died, a harsh consequence of someone’s actions.

Several calls regarding the yearling deer came to the office in March. Fish and Game personnel responded each time to help without any success. Either the animal had moved by the time personnel arrived on scene, or, if the animal was present, circumstances made darting impossible without risking public safety or other wildlife.

Deer with Leash
Courtesy Idaho Department of Fish and Game

“We tried at least four times to dart the deer,” Owsiak says, “but we were thwarted by circumstances such as the deer’s location, windy weather, other deer standing too close to the intended target, or other factors.”

To successfully dart an animal like a deer, a shooter must be able to get a clear shot within 30 feet, not an easy task with a wary, mobile animal. Furthermore, too much wind can reduce the accuracy of dart placement.

Lethal removal was also considered at one point because the deer was apparently suffering and becoming malnourished, however, proximity to houses and roads made such a prospect unsafe for the public.
Idaho Fish and Game continued to search for many weeks, even asking some residents along Bannock Highway and Mink Creek Road to assist with locating the yearling, but until Wednesday, the deer had not been observed.

How this deer was lassoed and by whom remains a mystery. However, Idaho Fish and Game encourages anyone with any information regarding this deer to contact the regional office in Pocatello at (208) 232-4703 or to contact Citizens Against Poaching at 1-800-632-5999. Callers can remain anonymous.

“It’s against the law to keep wildlife as pets or to harass a deer in such a manner as this one was,” says Jennifer Jackson, Regional Conservation Educator. “Even if the intent was not to keep the animal as a pet, the end result is the same—last year’s spotted fawn is this spring’s saddest story. I can’t imagine the stress this yearling went through before it finally succumbed to its situation. It’s heartbreaking.”

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