Posted by: Loren Coleman on June 29th, 2008
Brian Walters, a South Bend Animal Control officer, checks on a deer that was captured downtown after a lengthy chase. Tribune Photos by Gene Kaiser.
Police and animal control officers were on an animal chase in downtown South Bend, Indiana, on June 26, 2008. A wild mystery deer, later identified only as a “male” when captured, was seen running through the streets.
Reporter David Stephens of the South Bend Tribune recorded the course of the chase:
Where the deer came from, how he got downtown and where he was going Thursday afternoon were not known….
Already he had been spotted near Century Center. He had paused, until pursued by officers, near the county courthouse.
He ran by the WSBT studios, where he was spotted by office staff, and soon a group of three women was in hot pursuit.
Later, as he bolted away from Animal Control officers and toward [a] group of onlookers, one of the women would curse and scurry for safety.
By the time he reached the 300 block of Jefferson Street about 1:15 p.m., the deer had gathered a following.
South Bend police dispatchers broadcast his every move. Animal Control vehicles and squad cars scurried to set up a perimeter.
The deer — officers weren’t sure if it was a wild white-tailed deer or a domesticated deer that had escaped from a farm — headed west along Western Avenue.
Officers stopped the deer again, this time in front of the Rabbi Albert Shulman apartment building. Police worried that it would run back across the busy road, but again it escaped.
“He’s headed eastbound,” came the call across the police scanner. “Toward the Cove.”
Near the baseball stadium, incoming Animal Control officers were able to box in and confine the animal.
A well-placed tranquilizer shot and the deer’s downtown adventure was over, 30 minutes after it began.
Animal Control officers took the deer to their offices on Olive Street, where they set it in the outside fenced-in patio to sleep off the tranquilizer’s effects.
Animal Control investigator Bob Baker said the deer was uninjured and doing fine at the shelter, but said he did not know the long-term plan for the deer.
“Right now, he’s just sleeping,” Baker said.
The deer was taken to a veterinary clinic for a checkup and Animal Control officials said the Indiana Department of Natural Resources most likely would take possession of the animal.
The deer was not available for comment.
While it lasts, some raw video footage of the chase from WSBT-TV can be seen here. (If it is uploaded to YouTube, someone please let me know.)
What kind of deer is it?
At first, I thought it might be a muntjac, but the head coloring and legs seem wrong.
An anonymous Cryptomundo correspondent, who first alerted me to this story, suggested it might be the red brocket or Peruvian red deer (Mazama americana), a species of brocket deer from South America and from Costa Rica and Panama in Central America. That person might be right.
Is there a wild game farm in Indiana missing one of its non-native inhabitants? My trusty Exotic Animal Field Guide doesn’t even list this species as a frequent inhabitant of ranches and game farms in America.
Perhaps there will be a followup to this story, but if it is like most captured exotic animal news items, it will merely disappear into a file cabinet, unless we keep asking.