Editor’s Note: This is a regular monthly column from Colorado Parks and Wildlife about wildlife issues in the Falcon area by a career wildlife officer. Aaron Berscheid is a district wildlife officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Aaron covers the “wild” side of Northeast El Paso County, including Black Forest, Falcon, Peyton and Calhan. He also covers some of Elbert County, north of U.S. Highway 24 and south of State Highway 86, including the towns of Elbert, Kiowa, Ramah, Simla, Matheson and a small portion of the Limon area.
Pardon me for being rude. But recent deer attacks have me frustrated about how to convince people it’s dangerous to feed wildlife.
Yes, I know I appear to be shouting at you in print. Forgive me for appearing to be rude.
But after the recent near tragedy in Black Forest, I feel I need to get everyone’s attention.
And I admit I’m frustrated because I just wrote about the importance of keeping wildlife wild and never feeding them. But after an innocent woman was gored and seriously injured by a deer last week, I feel like I must revisit the topic.
If you recall, I recently wrote these words: Feeding wildlife, especially big game like deer, elk, and bears, poses a very large risk to yourself, the animals and your neighbors.
Then on Friday, Oct. 16, an area woman was gored and severely injured by a deer that was “rescued” by one of her neighbors as a fawn.
The deer was bottle-fed as a fawn, kept indoors and then hand-fed for an entire year or longer. This deer lost all natural fear of humans.
The deer was a buck, or male deer, and it learned from its upbringing that humans were no longer a threat. More than likely it learned to view humans as competition.
So when it saw a woman walking her dog that Friday, it wasn’t scared by two predators. It felt emboldened and lashed out.
The deer lowered its head and held its ears back. And it rammed its two-prong antlers into her abdomen.
Normally, a lowered head and pinned ears are a warning sign of aggressive behavior to follow. The victim was unaware that this was aggressive behavior, and thought that the deer was just friendly. The result was violent.
The victim ended up in the hospital with many puncture wounds and large lacerations, and the deer was euthanized.
Later, we learned this same deer chased and attacked another woman, leaving her with bruises on her legs. Video shows her running from the deer and being rescued by neighbors.
The most frustrating thing is that these situations were entirely avoidable.
I made it a point in my last column to focus on how detrimental it is to the deer to feed them, but more importantly, it is a very large human safety issue.
This time of year, male deer are entering what is called the rut. They are challenging each other for the affection of the female deer. They rake branches, brush and literally anything else to show dominance over their competition.
This leads to entanglements in sports netting, fencing material, hammocks and holiday decorations. However, if the deer is not afraid of humans, it can also lead to aggressive behavior.
Do not approach deer. Do not feed deer. They are wild animals that are unpredictable and they do not need human support to survive. Plus, it’s illegal and leads to criminal misdemeanor charges and expensive fines.
If you find a fawn you think is abandoned, please call Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Often does leave their fawns for hours at a time to go feed. We can determine if a fawn is truly abandoned. Never take a wild animal into your home.
So I’m sorry I shouted at you. But seeing people hurt and wildlife euthanized needlessly makes all of us at CPW upset. Please help us avoid ever having a repeat of this incident.
In the coming months, I’ll share more of those stories as I write about wildlife issues in our community: Got a question, problem or column idea, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 719-227-5231.
I might even answer your question in a future installment of “Wildlife Matters.”
This is what happens when people feed wildlife and take them in as a pet. This buck gored a woman, which caused serious lacerations and puncture wounds. Because it no longer was afraid of humans, the buck had to be euthanized.