Tourists took the deer they thought was abandoned and drove it 30 miles to an animal shelter

By Kelli Bender
Updated July 07, 2016 06:10 PM
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Another wild animal is dead as a result of being handled by tourists.

Similar to the case of the Yellowstone bison that was euthanized, a fawn was killed by Colorado park officials after it was picked up by several visitors in the forest area of the La Plata Mountains in southwest Colorado, reports ABC News.

This past Saturday, two tourist found the baby deer alone in the woods and mistakenly thought the animal was abandoned. Instead of waiting to see if the mother would return, thy pair grabbed the fawn, placed the animal in their car and drove it 30 miles to the La Plata County Animal Humane Society shelter in Durango.

Sadly, the shelter was not equipped to care for the deer and felt it would be inhumane to release the baby back into the wild without support, the facility made the difficult decision to euthanize the animal.

“Unfortunately, we had to euthanize this deer because turning it loose in the wild would be cruel, especially since we don’t know where it had been taken from or where its mother is,” Joe Lewandowski, public information officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Southwest Region, told ABC News. “The mother would have had the nutrition needed to nurture the deer and keep it alive, and we don’t have such nutritional products available.”

He added, deer “also need to learn from other fellow deer how to eat, how to move across the landscape and how to escape predators.”

Unable to give the deer what it needed for a successful life, officials agreed that euthanizing the fawn was the most humane choice. Authorities said this sad fate could’ve been avoided, if the tourists just left the animal alone. Mother deer often leave their children alone for brief periods while they collect food, but they rarely abandon their babies. One of the few times they do leave children behind is when they are moved by humans or pick up the foreign scent of humans who touch them.

This is not the first time visitors to a national park have made this mistake. Recently a tourist at Yellowstone placed a bison calf in their car, thinking the animal was cold. Park officials tried to reintroduce the calf to its herd, but the baby was consistently rejected. The bison was eventually euthanized.

Lewandowski and other park officials hope these tragic incidents teach humans to leave wild animals alone. If you do come across an animal you believe to be hurt or abandoned, the best thing to do is to contact your state’s wildlife office for assistance. Do not attempt to touch or assist the animal yourself.

“In many cases they can tell you what you should do over the phone, or they can even send out a biologist or wildlife officer who can then determine what the best approach is,” Lewandowski said. “The best thing people can do is to look at wildlife, admire their beauty and move on. They’ve done quite well without us for thousands of years and will continue to do so.”