Fish & Game Kills Aggressive Deer

POSTED: 10:37 AM MDT Apr 16, 2012    UPDATED: 12:00 AM MDT Apr 16, 2012 
POCATELLO, Idaho -

A mule deer with a history of attacking people has been killed, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game announced Monday.

The buck was killed April 7. It was suspected of being the same animal that attacked Sue Panter in September when she was out walking near her home. She was saved by Michael Vaughn and his 17-year-old daughter, Alexis, both of Fairview. Both Michael Vaughn and Panter sustained puncture wounds, scratches and bruises in the confrontation.

On April 7, David Priestley of Franklin, was hunting marmots with his son, Tate, and nephew, Mason, both 9, about a half mile from the location of September?s attack.

At one point during their hike, Priestley said he walked ahead of the boys a short distance when a mule deer buck jumped up about 30 yards away and started to run toward him.

The deer circled to the man?s right, but still kept running toward him.

Priestley threw a rock at the deer when it got within 10 yards, hitting it on the side. The deer hopped about 15 yards away, where it stopped to rake its head on some sagebrush.

Then the buck turned back toward Priestley, getting within 6 to 8 feet before it stopped. The buck stomped once, and then began raking its head in the brush again.

?At that point, I used my cell phone to call Officer Korey Owens (with Fish and Game),? said Priestley in a news release. ?When he asked me where the deer was, I told him, ?Standing 8 feet in front of me.??

Priestley says that while they waited for Owens, a senior conservation officer with Fish and Game, to get to the site, the deer began circling Priestley and the boys at a 15-yard radius.

Priestley said, ?The deer would circle one way, stop to rub its head, and circle around us in the other direction. Then it finally lied down under a bush 10 yards from us.?

When Owens arrived on the scene, the deer remained in its position even as he approached. Owens said that the behavior, location, size and apparent age of the buck were consistent with the deer that had attacked Sue Panter last fall, and because of concerns for the deer and public safety, Fish and Game said, the animal was ?humanely dispatched.?

The head and neck of the deer were sent to the Wildlife Health Laboratory in Caldwell for testing to determine if the deer?s behavior could be explained by a disease or other health-related issue. It is also possible that this deer was pen-raised as a fawn, which could explain its unusual and dangerous behavior.

Blake Phillips, regional conservation officer for Fish and Game?s southeast region, said behavior like this is typical of deer which have been hand-raised or ?tamed? by people.

?It is incidents like this that remind us why it is against the law for people to rear wildlife as pets. Animals who have become accustomed or even imprinted on people do not fare well in the wild on their own, and can become nuisances and even dangerous to the public,? says Phillips.