Officials from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources have removed, for public safety reasons, two deer that Dauphin Island residents were treating like pets.
The deer, named Daisy and Darby by locals, were taken from the wild, raised in captivity and released on Dauphin Island, all of which are illegal activities in Alabama.
According to Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Law Enforcement Chief Kevin Dodd, raising wildlife such as deer in captivity causes the animals to lose their natural flight behavior.
“These type deer frequently are involved in vehicle collisions or fall victim to domestic dogs. More importantly, they often cause serious injuries to humans through antlers or flailing hooves,” Dodd said.
A Marshall County man was recently attacked by one of the seven pet deer he was holding illegally in captivity. In addition to numerous puncture wounds and extensive bruises, Julius Dunsmore suffered a loss of vision in one eye.
He now regrets trying to make the deer pets.
“I never knew how dangerous they could be,” Dunsmore said.
Dodd said even though the Dauphin Island deer were free roaming, the fact that they entered homes and were fed and petted by children raises serious safety issues.
“Wild animals can be unpredictable and the presence of human habituated deer freely roaming a resort island poses a hazard to unsuspecting visitors,” Dodd said. “As a public agency, our obligation lies with the health and safety of all citizens and therefore the decision was made to remove these animals from the island.”