Deer with arrow piercing face sought by Colorado authorities
December 24, 2008
Whoever shot an arrow through a doe’s jaw and nose broke the heart of animal lover Marilyn Thornbery.
She is used to seeing a herd of about 40 deer grazing on open space and on her three acres in western Elbert County.
But on Monday, when the herd missed up to drink the water in the large pail she fills for them, one of them caught her eye.
“I could see color on the front of her nose,” she said.
She took a closer look and it was an arrow with orange-and-green feathers.
The arrow was still intact, the razor end well past her jaw on the right side, the fletch end sticking out her nose.
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It seemed to be moving OK but had difficulty getting water because the arrow was getting in the way.
Thornbery called the Division of Wildlife, which sent over a few officers.
“We were trying to get a tranquilizer put together, but I don’t believe anyone got close enough to get a shot at her,” DOW spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said today.
“We dislike seeing a deer in such distress,” she said. “We’ll try to get over there again today and get her.”
Getting her, though, doesn’t guarantee a happy ending.
Churchill said DOW’s overall policy is to let wildlife work out problems for themselves. DOW officers don’t, for example, sweep away snow to help deer find food, or fix cuts and bruises when elk lock antlers.
But in this case, in which the deer is in such distress from a man-made object, DOW officers do want to relieve the doe’s suffering by tranquilizing her and removing the arrow.
But there’s a risk, Churchill cautioned. With large animals, tranquilizing is very traumatic and could cause such shock that the animal dies.
“Our first hope would be that the animal could get it to work out on its own,” she said. Sometimes arrows can rot away, or she may find a way to push it out.
Or, they may find that she is in so much pain that they’ll have to destroy her, Churchill said.
Or, they may never find her.
“She seems very mobile,” Churchill said.
In Thornbery’s mind the doe is in great pain. She wants DOW officers to try harder to find her and get the arrow out.
She is no fan of whoever shot the arrow.
This is bow season in Thornbery’s area, but no one knows if the arrow came from a licensed hunter or poacher.
“If he was a true hunter he would have waited until he had a good shot,” Thornbery said. “You don’t shoot a deer head on, you shoot at the side.
Hunting ethic says the shooter should track down an injured animal to put it out of its misery.
Churchill used the incident to repeat the mantra that it is unwise for people to try to feed and give water to wildlife.
“There is a lot of feeding of deer going on in that neighborhood,” she said.
“It’s illegal and something we certainly recommend against.”
The lure of food brings an unnatural number of deer to a small area, multiplying the chance that disease can spread, Churchill said.
And the food humans provide typically lacks the nutrients required for deer, which like to chew food for a long time, often lying down, to get it to pass from one stomach chamber to another.
“They’re wildlife, they don’t need our assistance,” she said.