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Thread: Problem with a deer that thinks it's a cow

  1. #1

    Problem with a deer that thinks it's a cow

    About 2 months ago on a nature reserve I manage, I came across a very young fallow calf all on its own, and looking pretty unwell (poor coat etc).
    I concluded it had most probably lost its mum on the roads, but figured nature would take its course, so left it well alone, it was very agile I might add...
    time passed and the deer seemed to be managing to survive, but it is captive within a stock fenced 34ha field.
    the site is closed to the public during the summer months to allow for breeding birds, so it's had a quiet life.
    last week I got a grazier to stick some cattle on the site as party of its annual management, and when I went there earlier in the week I couldn't quite believe my eyes.....
    the deer had well and truly adopted the cattle (or the other way round).

    This is is all very heart warming, however, the cattle won't be on for too long, and come September the site will re open to the dog walking general public, the deer doesn't know it can jump the fence. She really needs to realise she's a deer and not a cow, and she also needs to develop fear of people; she adopts the behaviour of the cattle, and as they aren't fussed by humans or dogs, neither is she, although that might well change if she were on her own.

    so, what would you suggest,

    leave well alone and do nothing

    try and catch her up and release over the fence into forest (almost certainly where she is from) so she can find other fallow and learn to be a deer

    treat as a cull animal (I will add this is my work place not my stalking ground, I don't have the rights there but for this purpose would be able to sort that)

    or do you think she will just think to herself one day, "I wonder what's over that fence......."

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    Oh, and yes, that calf is grooming her.......
    Last edited by deerstalker.308; 10-07-2015 at 15:50.
    Opinions are like arseholes....... we all have them, and most of them stink

  2. #2
    I'd let her stay with the herd until she decides she isn't a cow anymore. No need to cull the deer for that reason - certainly not suffering. Could always be moved with the herd when they go to another pasture.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by takbok View Post
    I'd let her stay with the herd until she decides she isn't a cow anymore. No need to cull the deer for that reason - certainly not suffering. Could always be moved with the herd when they go to another pasture.

    Seems a shame to disrupt her life, she's happy enough as it is. Or perhaps I'm just getting soft ?

  4. #4
    Don't get me wrong I dont want to interfere, I'm more concerned about what happens when people and dogs are back on site......
    Opinions are like arseholes....... we all have them, and most of them stink

  5. #5
    I think she'll be safe enough with the herd if any dogs are around.

  6. #6
    the cattle won't be on for long, after which she will be alone, come September the dogs will be allowed on, that's my concern...... There won't be any cattle on when it's back open to the public.
    Opinions are like arseholes....... we all have them, and most of them stink

  7. #7
    it is not unusual for younger deer to run for a while in cow and even sheep and camelid herds, and if a dog would chase her the cows will probably protect her. that being said not ideal to be sure. most of them just leave once they mature though, I guess it is a natural state for a herd animal to seek herd mates even if they are other grazers. I would wait to see if she gets moving once the hormones kick in. Moving with the herd...well... it is illegal to move a deer without a licence, and that is not even talking about wild deer so a bit of a minefield there, of course if the cows are just run over a few fields it might not be such a problem.

    if she really is not scared of humans and it does pose a problem the only other option would be (apart from shooting it of course) is darting her and bring her to a local deer park where she can live out her days as a proper fallow...

    it does help it is a hind, as stags pose a bigger safety issue for the public and the cattle, then I would advise shooting..

  8. #8
    If the cattle are just being herded down the road she may just stroll along with them, possibly ?

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by rodp View Post
    If the cattle are just being herded down the road she may just stroll along with them, possibly ?
    That's what I thought. Deer will definitely move with the herd. Don't see any legal implications if the deer's moving of its own will with the herd.

  10. #10
    No, cattle will be transported. Deer ain't going anywhere with them......

    Darting was another consideration, but I'll wait and see how the next month or so goes.
    Opinions are like arseholes....... we all have them, and most of them stink

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