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Couple gets a visit from deer friend

February 17, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

Bucky, the Hall family's new temporary pet, paced back and forth Monday along the porch of their Antietam Drive home as if waiting for good or bad news.

Kevin and Starla Hall said Monday they hope to receive good news soon concerning where they can take Bucky, a young deer the couple took into their home after it was nearly struck by traffic Sunday.

A Maryland Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman said keeping the animal in the domestic situation could, in the long run, irreparably hurt that animal's ability to survive in the wild.

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Kevin Hall said the deer, which appeared to be less then a year old, seemed confused and possibly injured when he and his wife took that animal into their home Sunday at 3:30 p.m.

The Halls found the deer they have named Bucky in the middle of the residential area of Antietam Drive, near Hagerstown's north end and Godlove's Liquor Store, after they heard cars honking.

The Halls said they feared if they didn't bring the deer inside, it would be hit by a vehicle.

While the Halls were sleeping, the deer managed to open the porch door and return to the wild Sunday evening or early Monday, they said. Somehow, the deer also managed to get back into the residence hours later while both of the Halls were at work.

"He got in and out, and we haven't figured that out yet," Starla Hall said Monday. "I came home from work at 1:30 (p.m.) and he was in the house."

The Halls said they are animal lovers and do not want anything bad to happen to the deer. They said they fear that turning Bucky over to authorities or back into the wild without treatment would mean death for the animal.

"We don't want to just let him go. He might get hit or someone might shoot him," Kevin Hall said.

Kevin Hall said he is hoping to find a farmer or animal lover with proper facilities to care for the animal. He likened the deer to a loyal family dog that trailed behind him at nearly every step.

"You can just look at how docile he is, pacing back and forth, letting you pet him," he said.

The Halls said they have had little luck finding a place to take Bucky.

Maryland State Police Sgt. Steven McCarty said that while provisions exist for traditional pets like dogs and cats because local veterinarians are willing to treat them, there is little that can be done for an injured wild animal in the immediate area.

"The resources are just not out there to handle injured wildlife," McCarty said.

McCarty said police consult the Maryland Department of Natural Resources before handling a situation involving wildlife.

"Normally, when we have an injured animal, we put it down," McCarty said. "Normally they just go off and nurse themselves."

Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Karina Blizzard said that even when an animal is slightly injured or dazed, it is better for the animal to turn it loose.

"In the long run, it's really not good for a deer to be kept in someone's house," she said. "The best thing for it is to be put back into the wild. They need to get it back outside."

Blizzard said it is "technically against the law" for a resident to keep a wild animal without a permit because of several factors, including the risk of disease.

Blizzard said the department was willing to send a representative to the home to determine if the animal was injured. She said if the deer were injured beyond repair, it would be have to be killed.

"If it is injured, we do not rehabilitate deer," Blizzard said.

Kevin Hall said he was making phone calls Monday evening trying to find someone that could safely and legally take in the deer. He said he fears Bucky might no longer be able to "make it on the outside."

"In essence, they (DNR) said they just don't have a place to medicate or take care of him," he said.

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