McLEAN — State wildlife officials are seeking help from village of McLean residents so a young deer that has been behaving as if it were tame and hanging around town can be captured before it or someone else is injured.
About 30 people attended an informational forum Tuesday night at the Mount Hope-Funks Grove Park District building to hear options under consideration.
It is believed the deer might have been hand-raised as a fawn and has become accustomed to humans. Several people in attendance said the deer isn’t afraid of dogs and will walk right up to them.
“She comes up in everybody’s yard,” said village resident April Fralick. “She’s not afraid of our dog.”
Village resident Dave Nevius said, “Our main concern is it has a safe place to grow up.”
Nevius said he is afraid the deer could be hit by a car, killed by coyotes or even shot by someone because of its lack of fear.
John Griesbaum, a wildlife biologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, told those gathered that officials have been directed to “sedate and relocate the deer” but “it’s going to take the cooperation of the town.”
After several people in attendance said they could probably get the deer to walk into a trailer without sedating it, Griesbaum said that’s a possible option, but he also cautioned that the deer might get “spooked” if it sees a group of people or strangers approaching it.
“We just want what’s the best outcome for the deer,” he said.
The plan is to take the deer to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, said Griesbaum. Ideally, the deer would be released in the wild if it can be rehabilitated, but if that doesn’t work, it might have to stay in captivity, he said.
A number of people in town have fed the deer, either directly or by leaving food out.
Griesbaum said, “Generally speaking, it’s best not to feed wildlife, but I understand people seeing them in their backyard and their emotions rise and they want to help.”
Griesbaum added, “I’m encouraged by the level of concern for this deer,” and he and other officials were pleased with the turnout.
Those in attendance appeared pleased, too, with several thanking the officials present and the crowd applauding at the end.
Nevius said after the meeting, “I think they are doing the best that they can do. I’m pleased.”
Fralick said she felt “pretty good” about the meeting, which lasted about 40 minutes. “We just want to make sure she goes someplace she’ll be safe.”
The next step will be to gather information from residents to determine the deer’s pattern and develop a plan for its capture, according to Ed Cross, DNR public information officer.
"The deer has definitely become well loved in this town," said Griesbaum. However, there is a danger it could pass along diseases or parasites to people's pets and "as the deer gets older and get reproductive ... it could draw in a male deer that would be aggressive."