PAWS Wild Again
November 2007

Kevin Mack

A Tragic Beginning, an Uplifting End
by Kevin Mack, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist

On June 16, 2007, a vehicle struck a female Mule Deer on Interstate 90 west of Cle Elum, Washington. A call was placed to the Kittitas Wildlife Rehabilitation Group, and a state-permitted wildlife rehabilitator named Marnee drove to the scene of the collision to see if anything could be done for the deer. Upon arrival, Marnee discovered that the deer was deceased. The story might have ended there, with the sad acknowledgment of another wild life cut short by a human's desire to move rapidly from one place to another. But as Marnee looked away from the body of the doe, she noticed some movement that caught her eye. A newborn fawn, only minutes old, lay on the shoulder of the road not far from his mother's body. The force of the vehicle's impact had brought him suddenly into the world; an orphan from the very moment of birth.

The fawn was in shock and disoriented, but amazingly had no signs of injury. Marnee quickly scooped him up, wrapped him in a blanket and took him to her home-based rehabilitation center. Marnee cared for the fawn for three days. His condition stabilized. He began to accept regular meals and gain strength. On June 20, Marnee delivered the fawn to the PAWS Wildlife Center to be raised with several other fawns that were already in care. He was entered into the wildlife center database as case number 07-1130.

During the following five months fawn 07-1130 shared his enclosure with a White-tailed Deer fawn that was also found near Cle Elum and two Black-tailed Deer fawns from the west side of the Cascades. Under the care of PAWS staff and volunteers, all four deer slowly transformed from spotted, awkward, spindly-legged youngsters to sleek, muscular sub-adults. By November, they were ready for their independence.

Release day came on November 14. The two Black-tailed Deer were loaded into their transport containers and driven to a protected 800-acre release site in Western Washington. Mule Deer 07-1130 and his white-tailed companion were driven back to their home territory on the east side of the Cascades. They were released on a property that contained more than 4,000 acres of protected, natural habitat. The following photos and captions tell the story.


Pictured here a week after he was admitted to PAWS, Mule Deer 07-1130's life nearly ended before it began.

Five months after his traumatic entry into the world, 07-1130 was poised to take his first steps as a free, wild deer. Marnee, the rehabilitator that rescued him from the roadside, had the honor of setting him free. Her assistant Chris (on the left) did the same for the White-tailed Deer that was raised at PAWS Wildlife Center.

As the doors came up, the White-tailed Deer saw a large field laid out before him. He immediately began to exit the transport box. Mule Deer 07-1130 was a little slower to catch on as he was facing the back of his box.

The White-tailed Deer trotted across the field in a stiff-legged gait.

He stopped and looked back, as if he was trying to determine the intentions of the humans who were watching him intently.

He continued across the field, slowly at first...

...and then much more quickly.

His tail came up, signaling alarm to any other deer within visual range.

He paused briefly before continuing forward and disappearing down a wooded slope.

Deer 07-1130 was completely unaware of his companion’s break for freedom. He slowly started to back out of the box.

He continued to back out as Marnee watched him anxiously from above.

Finally the Mule Deer's head emerged, and he seemed surprised to see his new surroundings.

He stuck his tongue out, perhaps to savor the sweet taste of freedom?

His body stiffened as he took in the local sounds with his extremely large ears.

He began to explore, moving slowly through his new environment with all of his senses engaged.

He paused briefly to see what the nearby humans were doing.

He then raised his alarm flag and tentatively explored some more.

Something behind deer 07-1130 caught his attention.

He took a closer look...

...and then turned his head while leaving one ear focused in the direction of interest.

He wandered back past Marnee and Chris to inspect some nearby vegetation and then headed up the wooded slope in the background. We left him in peace. It was an uplifting end to what had been a very tragic beginning.

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