A truculent deer in a Langley neighborhood killed one dog and put another one in the hospital last week.
Resident Mark Lynch said dogs aren’t the only ones in danger from the doe that’s been menacing the Lakeview Terrace area, which is about a mile from Bayview Corner.
“The deer has attacked every day for the past week,” he said. “Over the weekend, it started going after people.”
Does can be aggressive when they are protecting a fawn, but attacks are unusual, according to Ralph Downes, enforcement officer with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. He’s never heard of a deer killing a dog before.
Lynch explained that his wife and daughters were in their yard with the family dog, a 12-pound pooch named Lulu, when the deer suddenly jumped out of the bushes and attacked the dog. The blacktail reared up and “stomped” the dog repeatedly, Lynch said.
The family brought Lulu to an emergency hospital off the island, but her injuries were too severe and she died about 24 hours later. The vet bill was about $3,500.
A neighbor’s dog was also attacked and injured.
The deer has a fawn, Lynch said, but it was nowhere in sight and not in danger when the deer has been aggressive. The attacks seem to be unprovoked.
In another recent incident, the deer went after a woman, who was able to retreat to the safety of her house, according to Lynch. The deer has chased people onto porches and patios.
Sunday night, a woman who lives near downtown Langley reported that a deer appeared out of nowhere and charged her dog. She grabbed the pup and ran indoors.
Lynch said his main concern is about safety, and he wants people to be cognizant about the dangers wild animals pose.
“I never would want to see a child get hurt,” Lynch said.
The best solution, he said, might be for the deer and fawn to be moved to a different area.
Downes wasn’t familiar with the incidents at Lakeview Terrace but said his office receives a handful of reports about aggressive does each year during fawning season, which peaks around May 7-10.
They tend to be more aggressive toward dogs, which they see as threats to their offspring, he explained..
“Most deer have been harassed or chased by a dog,” he said.
Downes said deer also tend to be more aggressive in general when they live in areas like Whidbey Island, where they learn to be less afraid of people. Older does can be more belligerent.
When it comes to responding to the problematic deer, Downes said there are a few basic options.
He can “haze” a deer, which means to harass or scare it away. Years ago, he responded to a report that an antagonistic doe trapped people in their home. He arrived and “had a talk” with the deer, scaring it into the woods, he said.
Enforcement officers could humanely euthanize a deer if it’s dangerous, he said.
Or people can wait an aggressive deer out while avoiding areas where it might be. Downes said does will naturally become less protective as fawns grow.
In most cases, people are able to scare deer away, but Downes cautions against being physical with them.
“Deer are very good wrestlers,” he said.