By Hilary Corrigan

The Bulletin

How to report

To report an injured animal, call the local nonemergency dispatch line at 541-693-6911.

Area residents might want to hang their holiday lights a little higher when decorating outdoor trees and shrubs.

“Anything that deer can get tangled in, they will,” said wildlife biologist Corey Heath of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Every year, we take Christmas lights off of deer.”

If hanging lights on trees, Heath suggests keeping them at least 5 feet from the ground.

It’s not just the lights, though.

Deer get tangled with wire, volleyball nets, chicken feeders, buckets, soccer goals, fencing — electrified and otherwise — and various other things. He urged people to remove ropes, hammocks, tomato cages and other unused equipment on their property.

“You name it, and we’ve probably taken it off the deer,” Heath said.

He recalled one incident in which two fighting bucks got their antlers tangled together with a length of rope.

“And that’s happened before,” Heath said.

In such entanglement cases, ODFW officials tranquilize the deer with a dart, then untangle the animal and release it.

The department gets other calls about injured deer as well, including those hit by vehicles, stuck in fences and suffering from disease. In those cases, the responding official — whether ODFW or police — will determine the severity of the animal’s injury and whether to euthanize it.

“We give ’em a chance,” Heath said.

If the deer is up and moving and able to eat or drink, officials leave it alone and may try to monitor how it’s doing. A deer with a broken bone can live and heal, for instance.

“They survive and they have fawns and they carry on and do what deer do,” Heath said.

But if an injured deer cannot stand up or has suffered badly broken bones or internal injuries, officials will euthanize it.

“They’re not domestic animals,” Heath said, noting they cannot be treated by a vet like pets.

If it’s a borderline call, deputies will let it live, said Sgt. William Bailey of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

“We only put them down if it’s too severe,” Bailey said of injuries and suffering.

To euthanize them, officials get as close as possible and shoot the animal in the head — the quickest and most humane option, Bailey said. They try to approach unseen from behind, to avoid agitating the animal.

“Make it as instantaneous as possible,” he said.

If it’s unsafe to shoot an animal because of the proximity of homes, for instance, wildlife officials may tranquilize it before delivering a fatal dose of drugs or taking it elsewhere to shoot it, Heath said.

ODFW’s Bend district covers about 6,000 square miles, and Heath estimates it receives calls several times a week, year-round, reporting deer injuries.

“We just had one or two today already. And it’s Monday,” Heath said.

The office does not track the number of injured animal calls.

“It’s significant, though,” Heath said. “We get a fair number.”

The reports usually come from places where people are living, driving and recreating and the injuries usually stem from people.

“It’s pretty much all human-related,” Heath said.

He urged drivers to watch for deer around roads, noting three freshly hit ones that he’s seen in the last two days.

“Keep a real sharp eye out,” Heath said, adding that the animals have moved to lower elevations now around Bend, Sisters and La Pine.

— Reporter: 541-617-7812,