Generally I love the encounters I have with nature. Last night, however, we had one that was not very pleasant.
A small buck whitetail deer walked up the hill into our yard. We watched it for a while, and it stuck its nose into a bush. It stayed there for five or ten minutes, then we started to think it might have its antlers caught in the bush.
My boys and I carefully approached it and freed it from its entanglement. I expected it to run away. Instead it followed us. The deer seemed disoriented and walked around our yard, again getting caught in a small tree. By this time we started to get the idea that the deer was ill, so we stayed away from it.
We called a few people, attempting to get advice. We had some people advise us to shoot it (something I really did not want to do), but to do that we would need permission from the game warden. I called him, but was not able to reach him.
The deer eventually collapsed in our flower garden. By this time it was dark. We thought we should just leave it alone–it would either recover or it would die. One of our big concerns was keeping our dog away from it.
This morning, there it was, dead. The rendering plant does not take deer, nor would the IDNR come and take it. They advised me to take it out away from our house and leave it for the coyotes and turkey vultures. Fortunately, we have enough land to be able to do that.
I dreaded the task all day at work, but with the help of my sons we got it taken care of without too much trouble.
Iowa has experienced a drought this summer–the conservation officer thought the cause of death was likely Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD. It is normally present, spread by biting midges, and is bad this year because the drought concentrates deer by the small remaining water holes, where the midges live.
Not a fun day. I hope this is the end of this particular story, but I can envision problems to come.