This Is Why Wild Deer Aren't Pets

By author of The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Tennessee woman seriously injured by young neighborhood buck named "Louie"

A Tennessee woman learned firsthand how dangerous a tame deer can be when she was attacked by someone's "pet" buck. According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), the 1 1/2-year-old deer came up behind the woman, who was standing at a mailbox outside a business on North Springview Drive in Blount County, and slammed her to the ground. The deer then began to gore the woman with its antlers as she fought back. 

Three people who saw the attack helped the woman get to safety. She was taken to Blount Memorial Hospital with severe injuries. 

The TWRA said the attack was unprovoked, but Bruce Harris, who says his neighbor owns the deer, doesn't believe that, and says he has no remorse for the injured woman. "I'd say she's a liar. If she hadn't grabbed a hold of his antlers, none of this would've happened," he said. Harris said the deer was named Louie and "wouldn't hurt anyone." 

Of course all bucks, including Louie, can seem gentle enough during the summer. But a surge of testosterone hits them ahead of the rut, making them territorial and unpredictable. That's one reason why in Tennessee, and in most states, it's illegal to keep a wild deer as a pet. They're dangerous. 

"This is an unfortunate example of the consequences that come from habituating and humanizing wild animals," TWRA spokesperson Matt Cameron said. "In the case of humanized white-tailed buck deer, TWRA sees several situations where they become aggressive towards humans, oftentimes women, when rutting activity begins. This same rutting activity is also responsible for the uptick in deer versus vehicle collisions in the fall, as deer are more mobile during the breeding season."

Cameron said this deer was also aggressive toward an 11-year-old girl earlier this year, but the TWRA officers were unable to locate the animal at that time. He said officers could still press charges in this situation.

"It is illegal in the state of Tennessee to take an animal out of the wild and make it a pet, and this is a perfect example of why that is," Cameron said.

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