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ruleNEW ENGLAND WILDLIFE: WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ENCOUNTER A DEERrule

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Deer May Seem Harmless, But When Threatened, They Aren't

By James and Terry Hyde, R.N., B.S.N.

Deer, although smaller by far than moose, have extremely sharp hooves, and, if they're cornered or challenged, they can use them as if they’re boxing. Only instead of the one-two punch, they drum the victim repeatedly with their fore hooves.

That is demonstrated in very visceral terms in the video below. In it, a hunter deliberately provoked a buck while his wife photographed the confrontation. The buck turned positively manic in its attack, and no matter how much the hunter tried to escape, the deer kept after him.

This video is a classic amongst hunting enthusiasts and is an excellent example of how quickly a deer can attack with its forelegs, knocking a hunter to the ground and continuing to pummel him. It demonstrates that animals thought to be non-aggressive can turn in ways very unexpected.

In 2005, there was a spate of deer attacks in California that still has wildlife officials baffled. The conclusion reached is that the interaction between deer and man, the direct result of encroachment and urban sprawl, has caused the usual fear of humans to dissipate. The animals see man as encroachers and will attack even if unprovoked. People doing something as innocent as gardening have been attacked for no apparent reason.

The deer herd in southwestern Connecticut is now so large that finding one or more deer chowing down on your backyard veggie garden is about as commonplace as is catching a rabbit helping itself to what’s growing there. And because many of the houses are close together, the deer are far too accustomed to the presence of man. Yelling at a deer and sending threatening body language to it are completely ineffective. The deer there act as if they're gang members, and if they could, they’d carry knives. If you get close enough, you may find yourself being drummed by fore legs or gored by an antler.

Unlike moose, deer are very likely to gore a victim before they trample a human being, and have been known to pin someone to the ground with their antlers. So, Bambi they ain’t, and it’s a very good idea to stay clear of both deer and moose, or risk some serious injuries if you don’t.

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