Deer, Apparently Thinking it's a Dog, Will be Put to Sleep

12-2-05 - A tame deer that apparently thinks it's a dog is scheduled to be put to death because of aggressive behavior, officials said.

The young buck appeared at the home of Sally and Tom KenHagen last year, and they named it Juan Deer, but he's getting hard to handle now that he's bigger.

"He thinks he's a dog," Sally KenHagen told the Valley Morning Star in Friday's editions. "He was always gentle ... but now he's got antlers and he's scary. He even rammed against me."

Other Port Mansfield residents said the deer has followed them while they walked their dogs and has occasionally become aggressive.

"My dog was afraid of him and ran around behind me," resident Bill Ferguson said. "That made the deer mad, that I was between him and my dog."

Ferguson said the deer then butted his leg, leaving a large bruise and breaking the skin on his forearm.

"There have been several incidents with that deer," said James Lindsey, a Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden.

Lindsey said officials considered other options before euthanization, including releasing it into the wild. But the deer wouldn't know how to feed it because people had always fed it.

The decision is upsetting to Sally KenHogan, who is urging authorities to reconsider.

"Why don't they dart him and put him on a ranch?" she said. "Some ranches will pay money for a healthy deer. ... Juan wouldn't purposely hurt anybody."