Wildlife agent shoots deer considered neighborhood pet, sparks controversy

A deer that had become a neighborhood pet after its ill-advised rescue as a fawn was shot and killed by a wildlife agent, sparking a controversy in the small Idaho town of St. Maries.

While some residents viewed the white-tailed deer as a danger and nuisance, others regarded the deer that was known as "Baby" and "Bucky" as a neighborhood mascot and were outraged when they learned of its death.

"She brought the whole community together, everyone loved this deer," Mia Suchoski told The Spokesman-Review.

"This was an orphan deer that the whole community helped raise."

About a year ago, children discovered the fawn and believed it to be orphaned since the mother wasn't spotted nearby. This was the first mistake.

If there isn't a dead doe in the area or on a nearby road, the fawn is probably not an orphan. Does typically find a place to put their young for the day and return to them well after dark, according to Wildlife in Crisis and other wildlife experts. A fawn on its own remains protected from predators because it is born without a scent.

Experts also say not to touch a fawn since doing so could result in the does rejecting them because they are covered with human scent.

Unfortunately, the Suchoski family did just that, taking in the fawn because of a big storm rolling in. The family took it into their home and started to care for it, giving it a bottle to feed from.

"We know we're not supposed to keep wild animals, but what do you do when something like that gets in your heart," Suchoski's neighbor, Barbara Smeltzer, told The Spokesman-Review.

Suchoski was told by the Idaho Fish and Game that it was illegal to bring a deer into the home and was told to "leave her to the elements," but she refused.

The deer became accustomed to people, playing with Suchoski's dog and visiting neighbors.

But the deer also reportedly harassed children and the elderly, and injured a dog.

"The deer has been an ongoing problem for at least six months, around the time it turned a year old," Sharlyn Johnston wrote on Facebook, according to the paper.

Three complaints finally led to the wildlife agency to send an officer to euthanize the deer. It took the agent three shots from a handgun to kill the deer, further upsetting and angering those who loved the deer.

Now, those who filed complaints about the deer are being harassed by the angry residents.

"Basically a loss of fear of humans by animals that large is something we don't take lightly," Chip Corsi, Fish and Game's regional manager in Coeur d'Alene, told The Spokesman-Review.

"It's absolutely illegal to take in a wild animal and feed them."

Added Mike Keckler, a Fish and Game spokesman, "Animals that lose that fear of humans can become aggressive, especially in instances [where] they've been fed."

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