January 9, 2014
By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Acknowledging that the correct action is not always the popular choice when wild animals are involved, Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) officials say the division will always give public safety immediate precedence.
The case in point is the recent incident that involved “pet” deer located on Dauphin Island. WFF officers removed the deer, both does, from the island. Many on the island who considered the illegally transported deer as “pets” were outraged.
Fact is, the officers had no other choice because the behavior of wild animals is unpredictable and poses a safety risk to humans.
“First and foremost, and really the bottom line, is it’s a wild animal. Period,” said Chuck Sykes, WFF Director. “It’s not a dog. It’s not a cat. It’s a wild animal. You hear about it every day that somebody has had a dog that all of a sudden bites somebody. That’s a domesticated animal that’s unpredictable.
“Yeah, they’re cute, fuzzy and cuddly when they’re little, but it’s a wild animal. You may think that specific animal wouldn’t hurt anybody, but you can’t know that for a fact.”
Sykes said his work at the Auburn University white-tailed deer research facility gave him specific insight into the unpredictability of the white-tailed deer.
“I worked at Auburn’s deer research facility for a year-and-a-half when I was in school,” he said. “I was there three or four or times a week with those deer. Every once in a while, one would just go berserk. You never know what’s going to happen with a wild animal, and when you get complacent around it, that’s when somebody can get hurt. Even if the animal doesn’t intend to do you bodily harm, something could startle it – a horn going off, a car door slamming, a dog barking. Its flight instinct could hurt somebody unintentionally.”