POCATELLO — Wildlife officials are investigating after a deer was found dead with a leash wrapped around its neck.
The yearling buck was found on Wednesday in the back yard of a Gibson Jack residence south of Pocatello.
Officials with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game said it is not uncommon to find dead wildlife on people’s properties. However, Wednesday’s incident was unique because officials said the leash had been intentionally strapped around the deer’s neck, “either in an attempt to make it a pet or to otherwise harass the animal.”
“The deer experienced a long, slow death,” said Anna Owsiak, regional habitat manager for Fish and Game, in a news release. “The condition of the animal was poor — it was obviously malnourished and its velvety antlers had been chewed off at some point. This deer has had to do its best to keep up with its herd, move through the brush, escape dogs and other predators, and try to feed — with a strap impeding its every move.”
When the deer was found, one of its back legs was in the loop of the leash’s hand grip. Officials believe that each time the deer had to take a step, its head and neck were pulled to the ground in a painful fashion.
“Ultimately, the animal died, a harsh consequence of someone’s actions,” a Fish and Game news release said.
Fish and Game received numerous calls about the deer in March, but attempts to help the animal were unsuccessful.
“We tried at least four times to dart the deer, Owsiak said. “But we were thwarted by circumstances such as the deer’s location, windy weather, other deer standing to close to the intended target, or other factors.”
Fish and Game continued to look for the yearling, even asking some residents along Bannock Highway and Mink Creek Road to assist in the search. The deer was later found dead on Wednesday.
“How this deer was lassoed and by whom remains a mystery,” a Fish and Game news release said.
Anyone with information on this case is asked to contact Fish and Game’s regional office in Pocatello at 208-232-4703 or Citizens Against Poaching at 1-800-632-5999. Callers can remain anonymous.
“It’s against the law to keep wildlife as pets or to harass a deer in such a manner as this one was,” said Jennifer Jackson, regional conservation educator, in a news release. “Even if the intent was not to keep the animal as a pet, the end result is the same — last year’s spotted fawn is this spring’s saddest story. I can’t imagine the stress this yearling went through before it finally succumbed to its situation. It’s heartbreaking.”