SHADY COVE — Two black-tailed deer are on the mend and expected to survive after biologists on Wednesday captured and successfully removed target arrows embedded in each of them, authorities said.
The two tame “city deer” were located late Wednesday morning in the Mason Way area of Shady Cove and shot with tranquilizers by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists who conducted a similar field surgery in that same neighborhood two years ago.
In this case, an adult doe had an arrow shot through her head behind the back of its mouth, and a yearling doe had an arrow through her neck.
The arrows, which were not hunting arrows and did not have broadheads on them, were pulled out, and ODFW assistant Rogue District wildlife biologist Dan Ethridge said the pair have an excellent chance of survival.
“The wounds didn’t look bad, and the arrows didn’t hit anything vital,” Ethridge said. “They were getting around really well, jumping up and grabbing leaves off trees.”
Photos of the two deer posted Sunday by Oregon State Police went viral on media and social-media platforms, generating widespread interest. Police fielded several calls from people who spotted them, OSP Fish and Wildlife Division Sgt. Jim Collom said.
A reward of $2,600 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case has generated myriad tips, none of which have panned out so far, Collom said.
Possible charges could include first-degree animal abuse and wildlife harassment, and potential wildlife violations could include attempting to take a deer in closed seasons, Collom said.
There are no legal deer-hunting seasons currently open in Oregon.
Collom said the recent shootings likely took place in or around Shady Cove in the past two weeks.
Collom said the animals were “typical city deer” that showed no fear of humans.
“They were so tame you could literally walk right up to them, just about touching them,” Collom said.
OSP received the first report of the wounded deer last Thursday, and several attempts were made over the weekend to capture them.
ODFW received a call Wednesday morning that both deer were bedded down near each other along Mason Way, and two biologists along with Collom responded.
ODFW wildlife biologist Sam Dodenhoff used a dart gun to tranquilize the yearling, while the second walked away, Ethridge said. The arrow was removed from the tranquilized deer, then the trio went to find the second deer, which later was tranquilized by Ethridge.
This was the second case of a deer wounded with an arrow in two years, both in the same neighborhood, Ethridge said.
In the first case, a deer was shot through the nose with a crossbow bolt, with the tip protruding through the back of its head, Ethridge said. Crossbows are not a legal hunting weapon in Oregon.
That deer was darted, had the arrow removed, and was released after having a tag affixed to its ear, Ethridge said. Biologists spied that very deer Wednesday in that neighborhood.
Ethridge said the cases possibly could be related.
The reward in the new case includes $1,500 from the Rogue Valley Chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association, which decried the woundings as “a twisted act of poaching,” describing them as the act of criminals, not hunters.
DewClaw Archery Supplies of Medford contributed $500 toward the reward, and the Ashland Archers groups pitched in $100, according to ODFW. The OHA also offered its standard $500 reward for a deer-poaching case through its Turn In Poachers program, called TIP, which it administrates with OSP.
Anyone with information about the case can call the TIP hotline at 1-800-452-7888 or the OSP dispatch center at 541-776-6111. Tipsters can remain anonymous and still receive a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction.
Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.