Yard deer in Eureka: What to do when encountering them

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With the summer season in full bloom, scenes like this – where deer frolic through neighborhoods – are becoming more prevalent. 

“The wild deer this time of year starting to warm up, it’s the beginning of summer,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) human-wildlife conflict specialist Ian Keith said. “They’re migrating to higher elevations to their summer range. Yard deer or the residential deer that hang around communities because they think in their mind, they think it’s safer.”

But residents should be wary of putting a deer in a scary situation.

“Be aware that like just because you know that you’re not a threat to that deer. That deer may not know that,” Keith said. “You can actually spook one to the point where it darts out into a busy road and creates a welfare deer situation, but also a human safety problem because somebody hitting a deer at a high speed can cause physical, bodily harm to that driver.”

The reason this yard deer sticks around is knowing that predators will not venture out willingly to residential areas. Because of this, these deer use areas like Eureka as part of their fawning season.

However, just because a fawn is alone, does not mean they are abandoned.

“It’s always this time of the year, you know, we get calls. I’ve gotten plenty the last two weeks,” Keith said. “Someone thinks they’re doing the right thing. They think they found an abandoned fawn. They pick it up, they drive it to either us or they call us. At that point, they’ve essentially just kidnapped fawn and mother’s moved on.”

In this situation, fawns become farm deer or are now stuck living in a rehab facility until they die.

Those fawns will never know what it means to be a wild deer again.

It’s important to call the CDFW before handling any situation involving deer yourself.

“Sometimes the best thing to do is to just observe and monitor for us, as opposed to jumping right in and being hands on with the situation,” Keith said. “Most times, 99% of the time is a terrible idea for the public to get hands on involved with the wildlife incident. Please call the professionals, give us a call. We can advise, we can find resources close to you.”