Disappearing Deer?

A dead deer disappears from along Hwy. 243 in Idyllwild

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Early Thursday morning, Feb. 25, a motorist spotted a dead deer lying along Hwy. 243 near the Nature Center in Idyllwild. She stopped to ensure that the animal was dead, not just injured and suffering. The California mule doe had a massive head injury, and did not move, even when she took pictures. Then she went to report it to the Idyllwild Ranger Station. Ten minutes later, the deer was gone.

What happened to the deer? Was it only stunned, and got up and ran back into the forest? Did another motorist take the deer home to butcher and eat? Did a couple of coyotes drag it off? Or did a California Fish and Game warden pick it up during that time and dispose of it?

Although dead animals are not in their jurisdiction, a couple at the front desk of the Idyllwild Ranger Station had their opinions on the matter.

“The deer could have gotten up and ran back into the forest to die,” said one U.S. Forest Service employee who wished not to be identified. “Or maybe someone saw you standing there and decide to toss it over the side of the hill.”

After all, Idyllwild is a tourist town, and dead deer are bad for business.

After reviewing a couple of photos, the other USFS employee said that the animal looked dead, not injured.

“Maybe someone decided to pick it up to eat it,” he offered. “I wouldn’t have touched it, though. It could have been diseased.”

He wasn’t sure if it was against the law to pick up a dead deer in the San Bernardino National Forest, but gave the phone number for the California Department of Fish and Game field office located in Palm Springs, that’s in charge of these things.

“I’m pretty sure that it’s against the law for anyone to pick up a dead deer along the side of the road,” the receptionist said.

He took the motorist’s name and number and said that an investigator from the law enforcement division would call her back. The investigator did not immediately return calls.

“A person must have a valid hunting license to pick up road kill,” he added. “And it has to be in deer hunting season.”

He added that when an animal is reported dead in the Idyllwild area, one of their crew will likely pick it up or they will ask a biologist in Idyllwild to dispose of it.

According to the California Fish and Game’s web site, www.dfg.ca.gov, deer hunting season for zone D-19, is authorized after the first Saturday in October, and only for 30 consecutive days. No deer hunting permits would be allowed in February when food is scarce and they must venture out into the open. Furthermore, a hunter’s bag and possession limit is one buck with a forked horn–not a doe.

“I think someone decided to take the doe home,” said an Idyllwild resident later. “You never know. They may have wanted it for the venison steaks, its fur or even the skin.”

So what happens if someone finds a wild animal, such as a deer, and it’s injured and suffering?

“A CHP officer will sometimes shoot a wild animal that’s suffering,” added the USFS employee. “You can always call them to see.”

Tracy Philippi, of Better Wildlife and Pest Control in Idyllwild, will also shoot a wild animal that is injured, or dispose of a dead animal on your property. Call (951) 659-0525.

For anyone who wishes to report a dead or injured animal in Idyllwild, call the California Department of Fish and Game field office at (760) 200-9186, or visit www.dfg.ca.gov.

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