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Pet Deer Makes 50-Mile Journey Home After Being Placed in Wild

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June 06, 2012

Pet Deer Makes 50-Mile Journey Home After Being Placed in Wild

By Chad Love

Ever read The Incredible Journey? Although the book is fiction, we've all heard the amazing but true stories of pets making their own incredible journeys back to their homes and masters, but they almost always involve domesticated animals like dogs and cats. But what about a pet deer? Would a doe raised by humans and then separated make its way back to its family, or slowly revert to wildness? In this case, it's the former.

From this story on wkrg.com:
Kenneth Webster has what you would call a "unique" family pet. Her name is Bambi, and yes, she's a deer. "I found her on the side of Highway 43 lying beside her mother," said Webster. The mother was killed by a car. "I thought she was dead too until I walked up to her and she picked her head up." That was four years ago.

Bambi's been part of the family ever since, living comfortably in their fenced-in yard in Wilmer. "She gets 50 dollars a week worth of food, if not more," Webster said, describing the doe's diet of fresh fruit, grains, and water. There's only one problem. Keeping wild animals as pets is illegal in Alabama. "Somebody called and reported seeing her," said Webster. Keith Gauldin, a Wildlife Biologist at the Alabama Department of Natural Resources enforced the law. He tranquilized Bambi, and they dropped her off at a sort of "deer sanctuary" fifty miles away on Mason Ferry Road.

And here's where the story gets interesting, because apparently Bambi didn't much care for her new digs, so she walked the route back home. All 50 miles of it. It took her two weeks, but eventually Bambi showed up right back in Kevin Webster's yard, scratched, skinny, but alive. But in the eyes of the law, Webster is still breaking the law, so the state of Alabama plans to confiscate the doe once again.

From the story: "We have a regulation in place that prohibits that, that keeps the general public from keeping any species of wildlife in captivity, so, unfortunately the law is the law," said Gauldin..."Gauldin says they plan to enforce the law and confiscate Bambi once again. This time, they may take it someplace different."

Webster says Bambi can’t survive on her own and wishes the state of Alabama would just leave her alone.

From the story: "You can see the scratches on her from the travel," said Bambi's owner. "I don't know what all she went through, and only God knows what all she went through to make it back, but she made it back, so why not leave her alone?" said Webster.

So should the state turn a blind eye to this obviously domesticated doe, or is the law the law? What say you? To paraphrase The Clash, should she stay or should she go?

Comments (15)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Levi Banks wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

That deer could jump that fence, couldn't it? Maybe it's not really in captivity it just chooses to live there and he's probably right it won't survive. People have tried to move deer from urban areas around St. Louis to the Ozarks and the mortality rate is pretty high the habitat is different, they don't know where anything is, and that area may already be at or near its carrying capacity.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from smccardell wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

I know people are going to say my opinion is a bit harsh, but I believe it is the right thing to do. The deer should be put down. It is the humae thing to do because releasing it in to the wild is just going to cause it even more suffering. It doesn't know how to take care of itself, what to eat in the wild or what things to stay away from, like people (you know like hunters).

The "owner" should never have stopped and picked up the deer. Doing that was really a death sentence. He either should have called the Department of Natural Resources or left the deer alone. Maybe the deer would have made it on its own. But clearly it can't survive without human intervention now.

To allow this person to continue to break the law (which was established to avoid just this type of a situation) would just encourage others to go out and get their own wild animal.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from achrisk wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

Just make an opening in the fence. Not captive anymore right? That deer isn't going anywhere. With all of the dangerous game people try to keep as pets, an orphaned doe hanging out in a dudes backyard is hardly an issue to go nuts about. This is one small step away from food plots and feeders.....you know those "wild deer" that don't run away from property owners because they know that chow is coming.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from larson014 wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

what if they took down the fence or open up the back of it, so the deer is not in captivity?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from smccardell wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

If someone fed you filet and lobster every day would you want to leave, or would you feel right at home where you were.

Of course the deer came back. It's all that it has ever known. It still doesn't make it right.

It is not one small step away from food plots. It's more of one step away from a canned hunt. Game plots provide food for more then the deer and they do not stay there 24/7. They move around their natural habitat and hunters and non-hunters have the ability to enjoy them respectively.

What this gentleman did was tantamount to poaching. It's the same thing as keeping a trout from a catch and release area just because you happened to hook it so badly it won't survive. Either way you are breaking the law. They should fine him for the first and second offense.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from bounty1 wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

What?? They have no game farms, deer farms, high fenced hunt clubs (She's a doe, she'd be safe there). How about applying for a game farm license. How about a zoo? There has ta be some place for her to go besides the food pantry. Here in Wisconsin we have all of the above.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from TM wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

Why do the cops or neighbors care? Leaving it with this guy is a crime, but it's ok to go to a government-approved "sanctuary" for deer.

"Tantamount to poaching"? Really? When you poach you eat the deer. You don't feed the deer.

Leave the guy alone. He's not breeding them. There's no danger to the public or to wildlife. It's an exceptional circumstance where the fawn would have been roadkill had he not stepped in. Where's the harm? Make him buy his own "sanctuary" license for $100 and be done with it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from mjmkjun wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

She should stay with Kenneth--her home. What's done is done and an attempt was made to relocate. Didn't work. So work something else out. Kenneth was not wrong in rescuing the fawn, btw. Does anyone think a newborn starving in the woods is not harsh? That's what would have been the fawn's faith if it had not been rescued. That or road kill.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 357 wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

well seems like he needs to investigate if he can license his property as something and keep her around, maybe a sanctuary? IDK i don't see the harm in him keeping her especially if she's not being bred. i personally would not have been able to walk away from a small animal needing help. couldn't have done it today and tomorrow will be the same. I would have called up a rescue if i could have but you bet she would have been home with me on a bottle while i sorted out where to take her.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nathan Ryver wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

I had a cousin do something similiar once....only he kept the doe for it's urine and estrous.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from muddydogz wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

with all the other crimes there must be in alabama, what a waste of time! obviously if the deer found her way back, she isn't going anywhere. i bet if he opened the fence up, she would still stick around. i have a pet chipmunk here in maine. i feed him peanuts out of my hand and then he runs through the woods to his den to stash them. think the biologist will try to relocate him too?

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gary Devine wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

It is a shame the mother was killed on the road by a vehicle driven by a human. The man should of left the fawn alone. Every state wildlife agency says let nature take its course and leave the animals alone. I know being killed by a auto is not nature and is sadly unfair.
It is against the law to have a pet deer, bear, squirrel, raccoon or other wildlife unless your a licensed zoo, petting farm or other legal entity. If the fawn would of died on the road it's body would be nutrition for other animals or vultures.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wooden1dr wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

I had a relative who years and years ago found a bear cub orphaned in the woods. He applied to the DNR for a permit to keep it as a pet. The law is the law but there are ways around them in many cases and this would seem like one. He clearly seems to have nothing nefarious in mind and as stated above, this animal won't survive on it's own in the wild and won't stay away from what it sees as "home".

It also seems pretty ridiculous that they tranquilized it, seeing as it had no fear of the owner in the video... And clearly it didn't need to see or be fully cognizant of which direction it was traveling to find it's way back.

My guess is the DNR will rule something completely unreasonable and not in this guys favor, seems to be the way of things...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JohnR wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

I completely understand the rationale the state used when making the law concerning keeping wildlife. It is common sense.
I refuse to believe however that in the absence of this law people will running around the highways and byways looking for game animals to "rescue". Many people including myself would drive by and see the stranded fawn and think "bummer" and drive on because in reality most of us don't have the time to take in a wild animal and care for it properly.
No, the state has to assume that we are all a bunch of bumbling nincompoops, that grew up believing Disney movies were real. I know several people in my area that have taken in wildlife (for an injury, or orphaned) and sucessfully re-introduced them back into the wild. I think that 90% of us get the message that wild animals are instinctively wild and usually cannot be domesticated.
I'm not defending Mr. Webster, but here's an alternative scenario. Mr. Webster drives by orphaned doe shakes his head and says "Too Bad!"
A half hour later the young doe walks out into the road and someone driving to work swerves around the doe and hits a minivan containing a family head on (assuming a two lane road).

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Neat story, sucky situation.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from achrisk wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

Just make an opening in the fence. Not captive anymore right? That deer isn't going anywhere. With all of the dangerous game people try to keep as pets, an orphaned doe hanging out in a dudes backyard is hardly an issue to go nuts about. This is one small step away from food plots and feeders.....you know those "wild deer" that don't run away from property owners because they know that chow is coming.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from muddydogz wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

with all the other crimes there must be in alabama, what a waste of time! obviously if the deer found her way back, she isn't going anywhere. i bet if he opened the fence up, she would still stick around. i have a pet chipmunk here in maine. i feed him peanuts out of my hand and then he runs through the woods to his den to stash them. think the biologist will try to relocate him too?

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Levi Banks wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

That deer could jump that fence, couldn't it? Maybe it's not really in captivity it just chooses to live there and he's probably right it won't survive. People have tried to move deer from urban areas around St. Louis to the Ozarks and the mortality rate is pretty high the habitat is different, they don't know where anything is, and that area may already be at or near its carrying capacity.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from TM wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

Why do the cops or neighbors care? Leaving it with this guy is a crime, but it's ok to go to a government-approved "sanctuary" for deer.

"Tantamount to poaching"? Really? When you poach you eat the deer. You don't feed the deer.

Leave the guy alone. He's not breeding them. There's no danger to the public or to wildlife. It's an exceptional circumstance where the fawn would have been roadkill had he not stepped in. Where's the harm? Make him buy his own "sanctuary" license for $100 and be done with it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 357 wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

well seems like he needs to investigate if he can license his property as something and keep her around, maybe a sanctuary? IDK i don't see the harm in him keeping her especially if she's not being bred. i personally would not have been able to walk away from a small animal needing help. couldn't have done it today and tomorrow will be the same. I would have called up a rescue if i could have but you bet she would have been home with me on a bottle while i sorted out where to take her.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from smccardell wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

I know people are going to say my opinion is a bit harsh, but I believe it is the right thing to do. The deer should be put down. It is the humae thing to do because releasing it in to the wild is just going to cause it even more suffering. It doesn't know how to take care of itself, what to eat in the wild or what things to stay away from, like people (you know like hunters).

The "owner" should never have stopped and picked up the deer. Doing that was really a death sentence. He either should have called the Department of Natural Resources or left the deer alone. Maybe the deer would have made it on its own. But clearly it can't survive without human intervention now.

To allow this person to continue to break the law (which was established to avoid just this type of a situation) would just encourage others to go out and get their own wild animal.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from larson014 wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

what if they took down the fence or open up the back of it, so the deer is not in captivity?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bounty1 wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

What?? They have no game farms, deer farms, high fenced hunt clubs (She's a doe, she'd be safe there). How about applying for a game farm license. How about a zoo? There has ta be some place for her to go besides the food pantry. Here in Wisconsin we have all of the above.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mjmkjun wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

She should stay with Kenneth--her home. What's done is done and an attempt was made to relocate. Didn't work. So work something else out. Kenneth was not wrong in rescuing the fawn, btw. Does anyone think a newborn starving in the woods is not harsh? That's what would have been the fawn's faith if it had not been rescued. That or road kill.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nathan Ryver wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

I had a cousin do something similiar once....only he kept the doe for it's urine and estrous.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gary Devine wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

It is a shame the mother was killed on the road by a vehicle driven by a human. The man should of left the fawn alone. Every state wildlife agency says let nature take its course and leave the animals alone. I know being killed by a auto is not nature and is sadly unfair.
It is against the law to have a pet deer, bear, squirrel, raccoon or other wildlife unless your a licensed zoo, petting farm or other legal entity. If the fawn would of died on the road it's body would be nutrition for other animals or vultures.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wooden1dr wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

I had a relative who years and years ago found a bear cub orphaned in the woods. He applied to the DNR for a permit to keep it as a pet. The law is the law but there are ways around them in many cases and this would seem like one. He clearly seems to have nothing nefarious in mind and as stated above, this animal won't survive on it's own in the wild and won't stay away from what it sees as "home".

It also seems pretty ridiculous that they tranquilized it, seeing as it had no fear of the owner in the video... And clearly it didn't need to see or be fully cognizant of which direction it was traveling to find it's way back.

My guess is the DNR will rule something completely unreasonable and not in this guys favor, seems to be the way of things...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JohnR wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

I completely understand the rationale the state used when making the law concerning keeping wildlife. It is common sense.
I refuse to believe however that in the absence of this law people will running around the highways and byways looking for game animals to "rescue". Many people including myself would drive by and see the stranded fawn and think "bummer" and drive on because in reality most of us don't have the time to take in a wild animal and care for it properly.
No, the state has to assume that we are all a bunch of bumbling nincompoops, that grew up believing Disney movies were real. I know several people in my area that have taken in wildlife (for an injury, or orphaned) and sucessfully re-introduced them back into the wild. I think that 90% of us get the message that wild animals are instinctively wild and usually cannot be domesticated.
I'm not defending Mr. Webster, but here's an alternative scenario. Mr. Webster drives by orphaned doe shakes his head and says "Too Bad!"
A half hour later the young doe walks out into the road and someone driving to work swerves around the doe and hits a minivan containing a family head on (assuming a two lane road).

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Neat story, sucky situation.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from smccardell wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

If someone fed you filet and lobster every day would you want to leave, or would you feel right at home where you were.

Of course the deer came back. It's all that it has ever known. It still doesn't make it right.

It is not one small step away from food plots. It's more of one step away from a canned hunt. Game plots provide food for more then the deer and they do not stay there 24/7. They move around their natural habitat and hunters and non-hunters have the ability to enjoy them respectively.

What this gentleman did was tantamount to poaching. It's the same thing as keeping a trout from a catch and release area just because you happened to hook it so badly it won't survive. Either way you are breaking the law. They should fine him for the first and second offense.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment