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2011-01-06

Does anyone know who did this?

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Officers with the Bandera Police Department are seeking information about a notoriously bad bow hunter who wounded this eight-point whitetail buck within the city limits. It is illegal to hunt in the municipality.
Bandera Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Schumacher and her brother and his wife spied the hapless deer while strolling on Cypress Street away from town the evening of Saturday, Jan. 1.
During the walk, Joe Schumacher and his wife were taking pictures of the friendly deer that happily live within the Bandera city limits. "We saw a very handsome buck with a gorgeous rack that remained sitting upright on the ground as my brother walked closer taking more photos of him," Maggie Schumacher said. "When the buck finally got up, we saw that he had an arrow in his side. My brother had a powerful lens on his camera and so he was able to get a close-up shot of the deer and the arrow."
Schumacher immediately reported the incident to the city police and Sgt. Jim Brantley and City Animal Control Officer Red Prevalte arrived to investigate.
"That deer might have been shot out of somebody's backdoor with a brand new Christmas present," Brantley speculated in an interview. "If so, I have a problem with that. There's a big difference between hunting and animal cruelty." Both he and Prevalte believe the perpetrator lives in the city.
Since Saturday night, the deer has been spotted in a yard at 507 Cypress Street. Even with the arrow lodged in his side, he remains mobile and able to run, graze with a herd and clear fences. However, the buck understandably now bolts when approached by humans, according to Brantley.
"This is even more reprehensible when you consider that the deer in the city are practically tame," Schumacher said. "This kind of cruelty to animals is unacceptable in town."
When apprised of the situation, Conrad Nightingale, DVM, said he does not have a dart gun or, in fact, the expertise necessary to perform surgery on a wild animal, according to Schumacher.
It was hoped that personnel with Texas Parks and Wildlife would be able to sedate the deer and remove the arrow; however, a game warden postulated that the best way to treat the animal would be to euthanize it, Schumacher said.
Because whitetails technically belong to the State of Texas, neither city police officers nor Prevalte have the authority to put the deer down. "The only way we can euthanize a deer legally is if it has a broken leg, but this buck is still mobile," Brantley said. "He's a game little animal and I would hate to see him put down, but I'm afraid he's going to die a slow lingering death."
A telephone call to Kendalia Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation in Kendall County also underscored the seriousness of the situation.
According to an emergency technician, deer have a low tolerance for stress. "When you attempt to contain or trap a whitetail, they can easily die of a stroke or break a leg in the struggle," she said. "Most injuries to WRR volunteers occur while working with deer."
She added, "Also, during hunting season, it's illegal to dart a whitetail. If they escape and are later killed by a hunter, the meat would be unsuitable for human consumption because of the drugs used."
However, wildlife specialists with WRR are seeking permission to distribute a homeopathic remedy in areas where the buck has been spotted grazing. "The herbal mixture helps animals expel foreign objects from their bodies," she said. "We've had a lot of luck using it in the past."
Brantley consulted with a veterinarian in Kerrville who offered essentially the same advice. According to Brantley, the vet indicated it would be too difficult to sedate the deer without him running off when the dart hits.
"The vet said that when a deer is darted, he doesn't normally go down right away so now you have a deer on the run with both an arrow and a dart in him," Brantley said. "The chances of catching a running deer are impossible. I don't think even Jessie Owens could have done it."
At present, it appears little can be done to alleviate the buck's plight.
"Last year, two deer were killed and beheaded in the Bandera City Park and now this travesty has occurred," Schumacher said. "Somehow we have to send a message that these kinds of action are not acceptable and that there will be consequences."
Under the Texas "Waste of Game" statute, it becomes a Class C misdemeanor if a hunter "kills or wounds a game bird or game animal and intentionally or knowingly fails to make a reasonable effort to retrieve the animal or bird and include it in the person's daily or seasonal bag limit."
Last year, another reader reported a doe with an arrow in her haunch. When the woman called authorities about that deer's dilemma, she was reportedly told, "The state doesn't give us a budget that allows for tranqs, etc. to bring a deer in like that."
The predicament of these two deer demonstrates the very real consequences of amateur bow hunters with faulty aims.
Meanwhile, Schumacher is exploring offering a reward to anyone with information leading to the conviction of the person who shot the handsome buck and left him to suffer. However, Brantley noted that bow hunting is legal on large tracts of land that border the city. "It would be difficult to prove the buck wasn't shot legally, then returned to the city limits," he said.
Additionally, anyone who recognizes the relatively distinctive green fletching on the hunting arrow is asked to call Brantley at 830-796-3456.