Manitoba conservation officers urged not to shoot deer in front of people

Matthew Coutts
Summer weather June 25
Two deer stand in the grounds of Studley Royal Park, Ripon, North Yorkshire as the fine weather continues across the country.

After a disastrous incident in which a pet deer names Bambi was shot dead in front of residents of its adopted community, Manitoba has implemented a few new guidelines, ostensibly saying: Try really hard not to shoot deer in front of people.

New protocol for Manitoba conservation officers were announced on Tuesday to "make euthanasia a last resort" and promote the humane handling of wildlife whenever possible.

Let's flash back to February, when the Hutterite colony of Windy Bay was receiving regular visits from their beloved Bambi. The deer had been abandoned as a fawn and left to be raised by the locals.

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But, as animals tend to do, Bambi grew larger. When Manitoba Conservation was called to move the animal to a sanctuary, they ended up shooting it instead, in front of several residents who had spent years doting over the dear deer.

In hindsight, that didn't go exactly by book. So here we are, five months later, rewriting the book. According to the new rules, conservations officers will now need authorization from a superior officer before shooting wildlife.

Here's a line from the new guidelines that speaks directly to Bambi's situation:

In cases where the wildlife is seriously injured and appears unlikely to recover or poses an immediate danger to the public or officer safety, then euthanasia may be required.  Wildlife will be euthanized by an officer out of public view, depending on human safety.

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Officers will also be provided with tranquilizer kits for use on deer, elk and moose. Conservation officers were previously only allowed to tranquilize black bears.

So, good news. Officers will have to secure authorization from a superior before shooting deer. This means some sober second thought before pulling the trigger, and a more structured chain of command. “Did you order the Code Red?”

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