Wildlife officers are using the image to educate people on the dangers of trying to domesticate wild deer
A Missouri sheriff’s office recently shared a Facebook post showing a photo of a deer with a collar around its neck and the word “pet” painted on its side. It used the opportunity to explain to people why turning a wild deer into a pet is a bad idea.
According to Belleville News-Democrat, the buck was spotted near the town of De Soto outside of St. Louis.
Some who saw the Facebook post acknowledged the danger of domesticating a buck.
“Wait till some kids see this, walk up and think it’s okay to pet this fella,” a comment said. “Then y’all gonna have a whole other problem.”
But many others disagreed.
“Now the government is telling us what animals we can save and pets to have,” one commenter wrote.
Some defenders claimed that whoever tried to domesticate the deer wasn’t causing any harm.
“They just don’t want their friend shot,” a comment said. “At least it has a collar on,” read another. “Half the dogs around [Jefferson County] don’t even have that!”
“I don’t care what anyone says. If you can put the word ‘pet’ on the side of a deer… [it’s] your pet,” a commenter said.
Missouri Department of Conservation Captain Scott Corley told McClatchy News said that whoever is responsible is only harming the deer.
“Somebody most likely took that deer out of the wild as a fawn and tried to keep it as a pet and put a collar on it,” Corley said, adding that it has “definitely lost its fear of humans.”
Corley said a conservation agent responded to the area on September 27 after receiving a call from a concerned landowner, but the deer was gone by the time the agent arrived.
“We’re concerned with the health of the deer,” Corley said. “And nowadays, since we have issues with chronic wasting disease and other disease issues, [interaction] is not safe for humans and it’s not in the best interest of the animal’s welfare.”
The deer looks to be around two years old.
“Obviously they thought they were keeping it safe. Maybe going into hunting season they thought painting ‘pet’ on it, somebody won’t shoot it if it comes by,” he said. “That’s just not a good idea by any means.”
Corley said the deer may have been friendly with people before, but as it enters the rut, its lack of fear toward people and aggressive behavior could mean disaster.