The story in The Sacramento Bee is summarized in this paragraph:
A day after confiscating a Rio Linda family's pet deer – saying chances were "very slim" they would release it into the wild – California Fish and Wildlife officials reversed course Wednesday and did so, alarming experts who say the doe won't be able to survive on her own.
People making deer pets is a big problem for the deer, as they inevitably end up in semi-suburban areas where lazy road-side hunters find them all too tempting.
This deer was going to end up dead one way or another, as no deer ever taken in as a backyard pet ever had a happy ending so far as I can tell. You think a hunter will not shoot a deer with a big red bell collar hanging from its neck? Experience proves you wrong!
The notion that deer cannot be "re-wilded" back into the forest is simply not true.
Preston Doughty, who is president of Austin Wildlife Rescue in Texas and described as "a specialist in deer rehabilitation" says:
"She's going to walk right up to a dog or a horse or a human who will slash her throat."
Really? I kind of doubt it.
Deer are around horses all the time, and both seem to sort it out without too much bloodshed.
As for people and dogs, we might calm down a little here too, eh?
The notion that all people and dogs are psychotic killers is provably false.
Yes, dogs will chase deer, but remember that we actually have to teach most pet dogs to hunt and kill, and this wide-ranging "pet" deer has probably already seen a few chasing dogs and knows what they are about.
As for people, hunting season is eight or nine months off, and though I have spent a lot of time in the woods, I have not met too many people in the woods with big knives who were hell-bent on slashing deer throats.
We might remember too that animals "rewild" all the time. Ask anyone who has dealt with feral cats or feral dogs. Ask any falconer who has released his passage birds after a year or two. Ask any wildlife rehabilitator who has taken in a baby animal, nursed it back to health, and dumped it out of a pet container and into the wild again.
This deer was already roaming the family's rural property in Rio Linda -- it was not in a paddock fed from a grain trough.
This deer was already eating wild food on its own, even as it grew parasitic on extra backyard handouts.
Will this deer do fine if it is released in deep woods with patches of good meadows around? The Department of Natural Resources think so, and they are willing to release it rather than simply kill it. That seems like a good decision to me.
That said, deer do not liver forever, do they?
The average deer in America is dead at age 3 or 4. A very old big deer is no more than age 6 or7.
So will this deer eventually be killed by a car (as its mother was), or a hunter, or die from disease, starvation or predation?
Count on it. We all owe Mother Nature a death.
For this particular doe, however, the call on that debt is not this week. Why is that a bad thing?