BLACK FOREST, Colo. – A young buck deer attacked and seriously injured a woman Friday morning as she was walking her dog along a wooded path near her home, requiring Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers to track and euthanize the animal.
The attack comes after CPW wildlife officers received tips that a neighbor of the victim was feeding the 1 ½-year-old buck – and even raised it after it was orphaned – in violation of state law.
CPW had been investigating the tips, but officers had been unable to verify the claims, or catch the neighbor in the act of feeding the deer, before Friday’s attack.
The victim suffered serious lacerations to the top of her head, her left cheek and her legs. She was taken by ambulance to a Colorado Springs hospital for treatment of her injuries. She remained hospitalized Friday night but was expected to recover.
Later Friday morning, a CPW wildlife officer was approached outside the victim’s home by a young buck with obvious blood on its antlers. Given the aggressive nature of the buck and the visible blood on its antlers, the officer euthanized the deer.
CPW officers conducted interviews in the neighborhood including with the person accused of feeding and raising the orphaned deer. Based on information gathered during the interviews, CPW officers will be issuing a citation once the investigation has concluded.
“This is another sad example of what happens when people feed wildlife,” said Frank McGee, area wildlife manager for the Pikes Peak region. “They become habituated to people, lose their fear and become aggressive and dangerous.
“This buck showed no fear of the woman and her dog. And when our officer responded to the scene, it approached within a few feet. This tells me the deer was very comfortable around people. Dangerously comfortable. It viewed humans as a source of food.”
Human conflict with wildlife is increasing throughout Colorado and especially in Front Range communities where human populations are expanding. McGee fears similar conflicts will continue until people take seriously state laws forbidding the feeding of wildlife.
“This is why it is illegal to feed deer and why we urge people to make them feel uncomfortable in neighborhoods,” McGee said. “The issue is far more serious than ruined landscaping or even the car wrecks they cause on a daily basis on our roads.
“We had a young boy attacked in Colorado Springs in June. And we had a 72-year-old woman attacked and seriously injured in Black Forest in 2017. All three are lucky the results weren’t much worse.”
According to neighbors, the deer in Friday’s attack was frequently seen in the area approaching people and seeking human attention.
Indeed, the victim told CPW she thought the deer simply wanted to be “snuggled” when it approached her and her dog Friday morning. When she extended her hand to the deer, it lowered its antlers and jabbed her abdomen.
When she realized she was under attack, the victim said she dropped her dog, grabbed the deer’s antlers and she and the animal fell to the ground. It gored her until she was able to regain her feet and run. After trying to get help at a neighbor’s house, she ran back to her own home. She punched in the security code to open her garage door only to come under attack by the deer a second time.
She ran between two cars in the garage to get away from the deer and end the attack.
The deer was taken to a lab for a rabies test and necropsy. The incident remains under investigation.