A doe mule deer attacked a dog Saturday on the deck of the dog’s home near D and 11th streets in Salida and was later seen chasing pedestrians.
Salida resident Mackenzie Christy said she and her dog walked onto the deck Saturday morning, and the deer leaped out from underneath the deck. The deer then approached the steps up to the deck.
“So my big black dog walks toward her, and the deer leaps at her and gets her with both front hooves,” said Christy.
The attack put the dog on the ground and agitated Christy’s smaller dog, she said. “So I put her inside” before turning to the larger dog. As the larger dog stood up, the deer “comes after her again.”
“The dog is fine,” said Christy. “We’re sympathetic to the deer … and our dogs never chase them or try to hurt them.”
Nonetheless, Christy said she later saw the deer charge a man walking a schnauzer and chase a couple walking down the street.
“And again last night she came into our yard. … She’s adamant,” said Christy, speculating that the deer must have a fawn nearby.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife District Wildlife Manager Sean Shepherd agreed: “This time of year the deer have fawns. The does are very protective because the fawns are newborns. In a couple of weeks the fawns will be able to run away from a threat, but now they’re very vulnerable,” which makes the mothers very protective at this time.
One thing a lot of people don’t realize, Shepherd added, is that canids – coyotes, wolves and dogs – are the primary threat to fawns. So the mother of a newborn fawn instinctively sees dogs as a threat.
Shepherd encouraged people to minimize potential problems with deer by not feeding them, which is illegal, and to refrain from using bird feeders, which deer see as a food source. Providing a food source for the deer causes them to become habituated to human presence and increases the likelihood of problematic human-wildlife interactions.
Shepherd recommended water sprinklers or noise to deter unwanted deer in town. “I’m not a big believer in repellents.”
He acknowledged the situation can be difficult in Salida, with approximately 160 deer living in town. “And in fawning season, the population jumps so they’re everywhere.”
Shepherd urged Salidans and visitors to “be respectful. Deer hooves are very sharp, and they’re very fast, very powerful animals.”
Shepherd also said that CPW policy for aggressive deer is the same as it is for any other aggressive animal. “It will be euthanized – killed – if it attacks a human and is identified. That’s if it does actual harm to a human being, not just snorting or stomping.”
He reiterated that this type of aggressive, unpredictable behavior generally happens at certain times of the year – fawning season for does and rutting season for bucks – and encouraged people to be aware of the deer and give them plenty of space.