FRANKTOWN, Colo. – A 56-year-old man was gored by a deer and received medical treatment at a hospital Wednesday evening. Wildlife officers suspect the aggressive deer was hand-raised by people.
The man was released from the hospital Wednesday evening. The deer was dispatched by a Douglas County Sheriff’s Office deputy after responding to a 911 call from the homeowners. The deer had displayed aggressive behavior towards the officer.
The man and his wife told Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers they saw what was a “friendly deer” fitted with a fluorescent orange dog collar on the other side of their fence around 4:50 p.m. The wife reached over the fence and the deer approached touching her finger with its nose, then the buck came through a break in the fence line. It approached the woman and knocked her back, pinning her into the barb-wire fence.
The husband tried to intervene and the deer attacked, knocking him to the ground and dragging him around the yard. He sustained wounds to his lower body from the buck’s antlers.
The wife ran inside and called 911. She was able to shoot a pellet gun towards the buck, distracting the deer long enough so the man could get up and get behind a boat in the yard to separate himself from the buck.
Wildlife officers believe this deer, a two-year old buck, was one that was domesticated and set-free in the area recently. Prior to Wednesday, CPW had no previous reports of a collared deer in the area.
“Every indication we see points to this deer being raised by people, one from its collar and two from its behavior,” said Wildlife Officer Casey Westbrook. “We suspect somebody was raising it and released it after they couldn’t handle it anymore.
“These are some of the dangers that come when you try to domesticate, or even just feed wildlife, which is a major issue we start to see this time of year. These animals learn to expect something from humans and when they don’t get it, they become dangerous and encounters like what we saw here can happen. Mix in the fact that deer are now in the breeding season, and this all contributed to something that could have been prevented.”
A concerned resident notified CPW Wednesday around 2 p.m. of a picture from a Facebook post that showed a man interacting with this deer on Saturday.
Wildlife officers contacted the man in the Facebook post, who said the buck had approached him on Saturday while he was doing yard work at his home in Elizabeth. The man stated the deer had attempted to push him around with its antlers and showed the officers several pictures of him fending off the animal.
CPW received another report at approximately 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday of the same deer that had chased a 10-year-old boy near Tomichi Drive and Caribou Drive in Franktown before a man pulled his car in between the child and the deer to prevent an attack. The incident involving the 10-year-old was just down the road from where the man was gored by the deer minutes later.
“If this was reported to CPW on Saturday instead of being posted on Facebook, we might have been able to prevent this,” Westbrook said. “The behavior of any wild animal can be unpredictable, and the behavior of wildlife that get domesticated can be demanding and aggressive.”
It is illegal to own or possess wildlife in Colorado. You cannot remove a wild animal from the woods and take it home. As a public resource, wildlife belongs to the state of Colorado, to all citizens.
“Colorado’s wild animals should stay wild,” Westbrook said.
If anyone has information of people raising or attempting to domesticate wildlife, it should be reported to Colorado Parks and Wildlife by calling 303-291-7227. It can also be done anonymously through Operation Game Thief at 1-877-265-6648 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.