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For the week of Nov 26 - Dec 2, 2003

News

Marauding deer attacks two in two days

Ungulate chases mountain
biker more than two miles


"Twice in a year now Iíve been run down by these large grazing animals. All I have to do now is cross elk off my list."

ó MARLIN MILLER, Ketchum


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

A deer believed to have been raised in captivity in the Wood River Valley went on a rampage last week, attacking one man and chasing another more than two miles along Trail Creek and Sun Valley Roads.

On the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 18, the deer chased part-time Ketchum resident Andrew Fitzgerald more than two miles before wandering off into the darkness along Sun Valley Road in Ketchum.

The following morning, the deer emerged from some bushes along Sun Valley Road and attacked Ketchum resident Marlin Miller and his dog. Ironically, Miller and his dog, Thunder, were attacked by a moose about a year and a half ago along the Big Wood River South of Ketchum.

"Twice in a year now Iíve been run down by these large grazing animals," Miller said. "All I have to do now is cross elk off my list."

Upon receiving reports of the marauding deer from the Sun Valley Police Department, Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials initiated a quick search. The animal, however, had vanished.

"If we find it, we will try to capture it," said Magic Valley Regional Supervisor Dave Parrish. "Iím not sure what weíll try to do with it from there. It just depends on the situation."

Parish, who called the deerís behavior "atypical of a wild animal," said one of the options would be to put the animal down.

"The problem is, if you move it to another location, and itís not afraid of humans, you may just be moving the problem, and you may have to deal with it in the future," he said. "I hope this deer never comes back, frankly."

Parish stressed that the publicís safety is the departmentís number one concern when dealing with the deer, which is believed to be a 3-year-old buck with its antlers sawed off.

Fish and Game officials suspect the animal was raised in captivity.

"It does just not seem to display any fear of humans," Parish said. "I would call this typical behavior of a deer raised in captivity and released. If it shows up again, then weíll deal with the situation."

According to Sun Valley Police Chief Cam Daggett, the entire chain of events was very strange.

He said Fitzgerald was heading for a night-time bike ride on the Proctor Mountain or Coral Creek trails and had ridden to the end of Fairway Road, where a single-track trail climbs a hillside and eventually leads to Trail Creek Cabin. As he began to climb the trail, he felt a nudge on his back.

"He gets off his bike, and thereís this deer staring at him" Daggett said. "And so this deer wanted to get to know him better, and he wasnít having it."

In written account of the events, Fitzgerald continued the story.

Using speed to try to outrun the deer, he rode down a steep road to Trail Creek Cabin, where the deer continued its aggressive behavior. Fitzgerald said he fended the animal off with a milk crate for about 20 minutes.

When the deer would not relent, he climbed the slight hill to the bike path along Trail Creek Road while the animal continued to circle. He put his bike in a high gear, threw the milk crate, and sped off toward Ketchum, about two miles away.

"I was sprinting and tried to gain as much speed as quickly as possible," Fitzgerald wrote. "I looked back, and there he was in full flight galloping like a horse trying to chase me down."

Daggett said a Sun Valley police officer was driving along Sun Valley Road toward Sun Valley Lodge when he saw a biker with a headlamp riding down the middle of the road. Then, as the biker passed through the intersection with Elkhorn Road, he noticed the deer about a car length behind him.

Creating a unique procession, the officer fell in behind the deer and eventually pulled alongside Fitzgerald at the edge of Ketchumís city limit. They pulled into a parking lot, where the deer eventually lost interest and walked into the dark, Daggett said.

But the deer apparently hadnít had enough.

About 6:30 a.m. the following morning, a Sun Valley police officer was stationed near the red barn along Sun Valley Road, when he saw Miller and Tundra walking and turning down Bitterroot Road.

"The deer walks out of the trees by the red barn and follows them down the road," Daggett said.

By the time the officer caught up with the pair to warn them of the potential danger, they had already been nearly run over.

"It came up real quiet," Miller said. "I didnít even hear it. I just happened to turn around, and Iím lucky I did."

Miller said the animal charged and jumped over the leash that linked him to his dog.

"It tracked me," he said. "It was stalking us from the middle of that field. It was just shocking to see an animal that size walking in behind you."

Before the deer was able to turn around for another pass, the officer had arrived and encouraged Miller and Tundra to jump in the police car.

"Luckily the policeman was there," Miller said.

 

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