On Saturday morning, a Campbell River resident found a deer struggling with what appears to be a broken life preserver or buoy caught in its antlers.
“My husband called me and said I needed to come outside right away to look at something,” said Heather Brooks. “I came outside and there was a deer in our front yard, eating the birdseed from a hanging feeder, and he had a buoy and a bunch of rope entangled in his antlers.”
She contacted the BC Conservation Officer Service, but was told they were busy at the time, she said.
With her husband and a neighbour, she tried to corral the deer in the yard of her home but the animal got spooked and ran away.
Brooks said she tracked it for about 45 minutes in hopes that help would come. When the animal disappeared, she went door-to-door to inform people about the situation.
“I let all the neighbours know that he’s there and he’s in distress and please report it if they find him,” she said.
Brooks remains concerned about the animal’s well-being. She said the buoy appeared to be preventing the male deer from being able to reach the ground to graze.
Later that day, in a note on Facebook, local resident Sammi Burk reported seeing “a deer with a pylon and rope around its head” in downtown Campbell River.
She told the Black Press that she reported the sighting to the RCMP. An officer appeared on the scene, but the animal had retreated into the bushes, Burk said.
“It was dark out and the cop said it was a little bit dangerous to go chasing after a scared deer at night,” she said.
By Wednesday, the BC Conservation Office had received five or six reports about a deer entangled in rope, mesh and pieces of foam floats, said conservation officer Steve Petrovcic.
On Sunday morning, he personally responded to a report about the animal being spotted laying down beneath a power line corridor. He went to the scene, hoping to tranquilize the animal.
“If the deer presented me with a safe darting opportunity, my intention was to dart it and cut it free of that undesirable head wear,” he said.
Petrovcic swept the area, but the deer was gone.
He noted that an animal that appears healthy and mobile isn’t a top priority when officers are busy.
“Each time, the animal has been described as being mobile,” he said. “The animal is not hung up.”
“Officers do apply triage to calls that come in,” he said. “Human health and safety is number one. Certainly, we don’t want to see an animal suffering.”
Petrovcic said that he recently managed to free another deer that had become entangled in mesh in someone’s garden north of Campbell River.
He added that officers from his division cover a region spanning from Buckley Bay to Bella Bella, with five general duty officers and a sergeant.
“It’s a big chunk of geography,” he said.