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Worried about an injured deer at my farm--WWYD?

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  • Worried about an injured deer at my farm--WWYD?

    There is a young deer that is hanging around the farm with a badly broken hind leg (no blood/gore, but dangling and looks broken in a couple places). Actually, since I live inside of a protected park, there are herds of deer all over the place, but this one is always around, not a fast mover.

    She hops around on the 3 legs, eating grass, the other one dangling. It looks excruciatingly painful, but she doesn't show signs of great pain--just grazes like a normal deer.

    I had the game warden out and he said that there are tons of 3-legged animals out there, that if both back legs were crushed he would do something, but that he probably couldn't even catch this one to shoot it. He suggested that I feed it out in the field and that if I were able to tame it, it needs vet care on that leg (didn't get the impression he was buying though).

    This deer has been around for a couple weeks, so her condition isn't rapidly deteriorating.
    I'm not dying to domesticate a deer, nor do I have a deer veterinary fund (my horse veterinary fund is struggling hard as it is).
    My land is surrounded by a public park and a few other houses (we are a suburban enclave inside of this park, which is inside of further sprawl--DC area) and there is no hunting allowed--I don't believe it would be legal for a hunter to shoot it.

    Do you guys think this deer is likely suffering a lot?
    Should I try again to convince the game warden to shoot it?
    Should I feed it such that it can be caught?
    Could it live a happy life on 3-legs and I am just being silly worrying?

    Thanks for your ideas.

  • #2
    Look for a wildlife rescue. Even if they don't want to take the deer, they should be able to tell you what to do with it.

    And good for you for being more concerned than the guy whose PAID JOB is to TAKE CARE of these animals.


    • #3
      Me, I'd let nature take its course. If she makes it, great. If she becomes part of the circle of life, then that the way it should be.
      No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. - Eleanor Roosevelt
      For you to insult me, I must first value your opinion - Unknown
      Pleasure Portrait 1989-2016...sleep well my girl


      • #4
        Since you are in a National Park, you have to be careful about what you do as you want to make sure you aren't breaking any laws. If it were me, I would probably contact a wildlife rescue group or a wildlife rehabber. Maybe they could dart the deer and see what can be done.

        As for the Game Warden, he IS doing his job. You will find in alot of National Parks and Forests that they aren't really allowed to do anything and have to let nature take it's course. Once, when leaving a park, there was a doe that had been hit by a car and a very young fawn was standing near it. We stopped at the park ranger's station and notified them, but were told there wasn't really anything they could do about it.
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        • #5
          Ahem - the CPO's job is not to take care of animals.

          His/Her job is to enforce the game and park laws and regs. Their job duties also include breaking up gang activity in parks and Homeland Security (anti-terrorism) duties- your "game warden" isn't just a game warden anymore.

          For the OP, contact the Wildlife Rescue League - here is their website and phone number.


          It's headquartered in Reston but they have volunteers you can consult over the telephone - and will help you find a licensed rehabber in the DC/MD/VA area. They're a good group - I used to help man their hotline. If nothing else they can give you some information or advice.

          It isn't always legal or possible for a CPO or other law enforcement officer to put down injured/sick animals - and it isn't always legal for a private citizen to do it either.
          Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
          Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
          -Rudyard Kipling


          • #6
            We live in a wildlife preserve and the game wardens for our area help with much, but not, unless as a personal effort, in rehabbing wildlife.
            We raised one coyote pup and one antilope, why let them die?
            The game warden told us it was illegal to keep wild animals as pets.
            We told him we didn't "keep" them, they choose to stay, until they wanted to move on.
            Eventually, both did, once grown.
            He also rehabbed one injured egret he found on the highway and turned it out in one of our ponds once healed.

            Our vet is a specialist in wild life rehabilitation, so he takes care of the animals that can be handled.

            You could ask your vet if he does or knows someone that does in your area.


            • #7
              As much as I hate to see animals injured, I'd leave it alone. I know it sucks to have to see it, but there comes a time to let Mother Nature do her thing.


              • #8
                A few years ago we had a band of does that would come in our yard every night like clockwork. One of them was a rather nice doe we named "Big Mama". She either was shot or was hit by a car and developed a rather nasty wound to her rear "hock". As a result of it, she could barely walk on the leg. The wound never really healed and the leg was useless from the hock down. As bad as it looked she could still manage to get around pretty well.

                My husband also debated whether he should shoot her. In asking around he was pretty much told to let nature take its course. She lived another couple of years with her leg like that - although the last year she did not bring any fawns home with her.


                • Original Poster

                  Thank you guys so much!
                  I left a message on the Wildlife hotline and will let you know what I hear.
                  I am about 20 min from Reston so within their territory.

                  Just to clarify, the game warden who came out was for the county (he wasn't a park ranger), as the deer is not in the actual Battlefield.

                  I live in a cluster of houses that used to all be a single farm in the middle of this battlefield (apparently when the battlefield was created, this one farm didn't sell to the gov't--and those 200 acres or so are now about 15 houses).

                  There is no hunting either in the battlefield or in our neighborhood though.


                  • #10
                    I've had several injured deer on my farm. One was so bad it kept stumbling and falling into trees that I had my boyfriend shoot it to put it out of it's misery. I think that both shoulders or withers were broken.

                    Another, was shot by a hunter with an arrow into its shoulder. The arrow fell out and i've been watching her for 3 yrs. For a LONG time she had a HUGE swelling on her shoulder and very infected looking. Would not put any weight on it.

                    Then little by little she started to put weight on. I was worried that she would be bred and would have to deal with a fawn in her condition but she didn't. The infection was prob. too much.

                    Then last year she was looking really good. I always knew it was her because to this day she has a bald patch on her shoulder the size of a saucer.

                    She ended up having a fawn last year and is still doing well. I'd say she ias now a 1 out of 5 for lameness.

                    It was horrible to watch but she's ok now.

                    I would leave her alone and watch mother nature do her work.


                    • #11
                      Glad you called the number.

                      Sorry if it looked as if I was chastising you about the warden - it was more a general comment about what "game wardens" do these days. In this state, anyway.

                      I'd be interested in knowing what happens - as I've not volunteered with them for many years. But when I did, we were easily able to answer most questions over the phone - and/or direct a person to a licensed rehabber in their area. Hopefully it's as good or better than it was.

                      Anyway - those folks aren't experts but they can hook you up with one who can be up front with you about the doe's chances.

                      Good luck.
                      Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                      Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                      -Rudyard Kipling


                      • #12
                        Honestly, if it were private property, I'd say just shoot it and be done (the DNR around here would likely look the other way, or at the very least have more important things to do) but given it's park land, I'd say just let nature take its course. It's a deer, it's not like they're an endangered speices. She'll either make it or she won't.
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                        • #13
                          A wild deer with a badly broken leg isn't going to last long.

                          Personally, I'd shoot it and put it out of it's pain.

                          Because you're in a residential area though you may well have to get in touch with a wildlife officer of some sort


                          • #14
                            I talked to two different game wardens about the deer with a broken leg that lives near me (and grazes in my field). He said that a deer can adapt to life on three legs quite well and if it was still getting around with the group then it was doing fine.

                            That darn three legged deer was out there for almost two years before I stopped seeing it. Pretty much the only predators to them around here are humans so who knows what got it (probably another car).


                            • #15
                              The parents of a guy I know who love up at Lake Oconee fed for years a deer who had one side of his face blow off by a hunter. The deer was blind in one eye, well he only had one eye, but he had healed up and was "healthy" in the sense that he was not in pain. The parents lived in a gated community with no hunting allowed, so they were able to feed the deer for years till he either got hit by a car or ventured off the community and got shot and killed by a hunter.

                              I'd feed the deer. Heck, I'd feed the healthy deer as well as the disabled one.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by CAH View Post
                                A few years ago we had a band of does that would come in our yard every night like clockwork. One of them was a rather nice doe we named "Big Mama". She either was shot or was hit by a car and developed a rather nasty wound to her rear "hock". As a result of it, she could barely walk on the leg. The wound never really healed and the leg was useless from the hock down. As bad as it looked she could still manage to get around pretty well.

                                My husband also debated whether he should shoot her. In asking around he was pretty much told to let nature take its course. She lived another couple of years with her leg like that - although the last year she did not bring any fawns home with her.
                                Ditto this. We had one around our farm that lived for several years and did well. She hung close by in the winter months and she even had some fawns with her a couple of years.


                                • #17
                                  I'd feed her too.
                                  Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.

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                                  • #18
                                    Last fall a I noticed a doe in one of the pastures with a broken front leg. Told my husband about it (as he is a deer hunter) that if he happened to see her, maybe put her out of her misery. Well he never did see her. This spring I saw her and noticed that she was pregnant. She delivered twins and raised both. I saw her with her fawns today. She still has a noticeable limp, but was able to make it through another deer season and raised two healthy fawns. Nature is amazing!!!


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Lady Counselor View Post
                                      As much as I hate to see animals injured, I'd leave it alone. I know it sucks to have to see it, but there comes a time to let Mother Nature do her thing.
                                      Here is where I beg to differ. Mother Nature to me is when the deer is maimed by another animal, drowns, falls off a cliff, etc.

                                      If this deer was injured by a man made object, car, a hunter's bad shot, that is NOT Mother Nature to me.

                                      As someone else suggested, could you get a licensed Wildlife rehabber involved and see what they say?

                                      Maybe the deer is acting normally as an instinct as not to appear weak in front of predators?

                                      Just find it very hard to believe that a badly broken dangling leg is not extremely painful.

                                      Poor thing...
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                                      Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                                      • #20
                                        Shoot her and enjoy the meat.

                                        Since you're not allowed to hunt on your property .... ?
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