Friday, May 22, 2009

VIRGINIA NEWS: A Recent Spate of Deer Attacks

Officials are testing one deer for rabies after getting reports that three people were attacked by deer last week in Pulaski County.

An aggressive deer was shot and killed after it charged at an officer investigating the incidents, said Julia Dixon, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

The rabies test results are expected to come back today, she said.

DGIF is asking anyone else who may have seen aggressive deer to contact its office.

"While some does with fawns may be protective of their offspring," Dixon said in a news release, "this type of extremely aggressive behavior is unusual."

The DGIF was notified Saturday by the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office that a deer had attacked a man and his son in the Delton area of the county.

The man and his 7-year-old were attacked in their front yard after they pulled up into the driveway and got out of a car, Dixon said.

The man suffered a broken arm and bruises. The child had an abrasion on his face.

A conservation officer immediately responded to the home but was unable to find the deer, Dixon said.

Another man, after hearing about that attack, reported Tuesday that he also had been attacked by a deer, Dixon said. That incident happened Monday morning.

The man told a conservation officer that he was bitten and kicked by a deer while clearing brush off his property -- about half a mile from the other attack.

While an officer interviewed that victim Wednesday, he saw three deer. Two of them fled, but a third circled and exhibited aggressive behavior, Dixon said.

"When the deer approached the officer in an aggressive manner," Dixon said in the release, "he shot and killed the animal."

A wildlife biologist took the deer to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services lab in Wytheville, where tissue samples were collected and transferred to the Virginia Department of Health to be tested for rabies.

Conservation police officers from DGIF asked people in that area of Pulaski County whether they had seen deer exhibiting unusual behavior or whether anyone was feeding deer or holding them in captivity, Dixon said.

"Wildlife biologists in other states have observed aggressive behavior by deer in captive situations," Dixon said. "When deer lose their natural fear of humans, they can become extremely aggressive.


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