A deer that had been tamed was shot and killed early Monday morning south of Ellis when it attacked an Ellis County Sheriff’s deputy.
The deputy was injured by the buck but was able to return to duty, Sheriff Ed Harbin said Wednesday. He didn’t give the deputy's name.
“He wasn’t punctured. He got lucky. He’s probably got some deep bruises,” Harbin said.
Matt Smith, regional wildlife supervisor for the Hays office of Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, said his office had received several calls regarding the deer in the last few weeks.
“It had been up in people’s yards and near their houses and sometimes even in their garage,” he said.
Smith said someone had either found the deer when it was young or had been feeding it. The deputy was close to the area several miles south of Ellis on Ellis Avenue and responded to the call while a biologist with KDWP&T was on the way with a trailer. It attacked the deputy just before 8:30 a.m.
“The deer came up to him and put his head down like he wanted his head scratched like a dog would do,” Harbin said. “Then the deer started attacking him. He had to shoot the deer to protect himself.”
Smith said the buck was about a year and a half old and might have been more aggressive now than it has in the past.
“This is the rutting time for deer, mating season, so he was operating on some hormones this time of year that maybe was the cause of some of the aggression toward people where it may not have shown up at other times,” Smith said.
The deer was going to be euthanized regardless, he added, as it had been relocated once before.
“We were going to put it in the trailer again, but this time we didn’t have any choice but to try and put it down because it was going to very much likely show up again in somebody’s yard and cause more issues. We really didn’t have any choice,” he said.
Smith said while wanting to help wildlife is admirable, it usually does not end well for the animal.
“What happens is when people do befriend or tame wild animals, it takes away what Mother Nature put in them to help them survive, and that is their sense of danger and sense of awareness,” he said.
“I certainly understand people and their empathy and compassion for animals. That’s admirable. There’s nothing wrong with that. But to do that to a wild animal is rather unfair because it does take away their sense of survival and you put them in a world they’re really not made to be in,” he said.
It is against state law to care for a wild animal without a wildlife rehabilitator's license. Carrie Newell, Hill City, is licensed in northwest Kansas and works with Western Plains Animal Refuge based in Hays. Anyone finding injured wildlife can reach them at 785-259-3765 or www.facebook.com/westernplainsanimalrefuge.