It’s best to leave Bambi right where you find him
Mike Brown

I try to walk most evenings at the urging of my cardiologist— that’s a doctor who plays poker—and I can usually find time unless the city’s Committee on Commissions and Boards is meeting.

With hotter temperatures I’ve been walking later each night and that means I’ve been sharing my walks with some of our area’s four-footed residents on a regular basis.

I’ve seen up to three deer at one time and some of my neighbors tell me they’ve encountered as many as eight.

Several weeks ago, at a corner I walk by almost every day, a doe came out of the woods, gave birth to a fawn and left it under a picket fence.

(See Rockdale Reporter for June 6.)

Fortunately the situation was handled perfectly by the land owners and by Rockdale Animal Control Officer Fred Lankford.

Game Warden Charles Mayer was contacted and his advice was on the money. “Leave it alone,” Mayer said. “She will come back for it.”

Art by Chance Buegeler, a 2012-13 sophomore at Rockdale High School. Art by Chance Buegeler, a 2012-13 sophomore at Rockdale High School. And that’s exactly what happened. The doe waited for all of us two-footed mammals to clear out, came out of the woods, nudged the cute-as-all-get-outbaby and off they went together.

Not all human-deer encounters end so happily. The good folks at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science sent me a press release this week that struck home. Its conclusion. Leave Bambi alone!

Dr. Alice Blue-McLendon, an Aggie professor, warns that people who try to cozy up to wild animals risk harming themselves and the animal.

“Wildlife carry a number of diseases and parasites that can be easily transmitted to humans,” Dr. Blue-McLendon said.

And everyone should resist the temptation to try and keep deer, and other wildlife for that matter, as pets.

“In many cases it’s against the law,” she pointed out. In Texas you need multiple permits from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. to keep and foster wildlife and those permits are usually reserved for educational facilities, zoos and rehabilitators. Feeding wildlife is sometimes thought of as a grey area but Dr. Blue-McLendon points out it has dangers most might not be aware of at first glance.

It contributes to a rise in animal vehicle collisions as animals cross roads to reach those well-meaning feeding stations.

Also, feeding can habituate dangerous animals into being comfortable in residential situations, something you really don’t want.

“Wildlife that’s hand-raised, like white-tailed deer, tend to be more dangerous in the wild, due to the absence of their fear of humans,” she noted. “They’re called ‘wild animals’ for a reason.”

Even if the animal is raised by humans, it will still have most of its wild tendencies, especially in the, uh, dating season.

Dr. Blue-McLendon says the best thing to do when you see a wild animal is walk away. That abandoned fawn is very rarely actually abandoned.

What mom is gonna leave something that cute?

Many years ago I received numerous calls from a most well-meaning couple who had “tamed” a deer and wanted me to write a story about it.

I knew better, but couldn’t seem to make them understand. Finally I called a friend in law enforcement.

He cut me off literally in mid sentence. “Stop right there, Mike, don’t say anything else. If you tell me their names—fortunately I’d forgotten them like I do most things—I’ll have to go get it.”

“Tell them if I read about it in the paper on Wednesday afternoon, I’ll be out there Thursday morning to get the deer.”

And that did the trick.

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