|Male mule deer entangled in portable electric net fencing meant for livestock.|
This morning, WES received a call about a deer entangled in electric fencing in Bonny Doon, California. The buck had been stuck all night but was still bright and alert and fighting to get free, according to the reporting party.
We immediately contacted the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to alert them of the emergency.
Deer are considered Big Game. In California, rescue organizations like ours must notify CDFW and receive authorization before responding to emergencies involving big game species.
Wildlife Officer Chris Foster was on scene quickly. WES' lead responders, Rebecca Dmytryk and Duane Titus, arrived shortly thereafter.
Together, the team assessed the situation and developed a plan to untangle the buck from the netting material.
This particular rescue presented a couple of unique challenges.
Deer are extremely dangerous to work with. They are flighty - they panic and will do anything and everything to get away, even if it kills them.
Once restrained, rescuers would have to worry about the animal developing "white muscle disease", also known as capture or exertional myopathy. Explained in detail, HERE.
The deer was an adult male and presumably "in rut".
The rutting period is the mating season of ruminants, like deer, where breeding males are in a state of heightened aggression, with one thing on their mind - finding receptive females. They are easily agitated and completely unpredictable.
After one last review, the team, led by Officer Foster, was ready to execute their plan.
They approached using wooden herding boards to protect themselves from the terrified deer, flailing and kicking and striking. This allowed them to get close enough for Officer Foster to grab hold of the antlers and restrain the front end, while Duane applied pressure on the backside.
With the animal held down, Rebecca began cutting away at the tangled mass of plastic and wire webbing. It took nearly 4 minutes to clear the antlers.
With protective boards to shield them from the buck should it charge, Duane and Officer Foster released their hold.
Immediately, the buck spun right around for a quick charge. The herding boards fended off his aggression until he collected his wits and headed off into the woods.
A huge THANK YOU!!! to Wildlife Officer Chris Foster for his prompt and expert response!
Check out the video below.
The net fencing was being used to keep grazing goats contained to a specific area.
Unfortunately, this relatively new type of fencing seems to be gaining in popularity as it's lightweight, portable, and cost, but, like any netting material, it poses a serious risk to wildlife especially when used in or near wild habitat.
This publication, Fencing with Wildlife in Mind, offers suggestions of safer fences.