When one New Jersey resident saw a young buck grazing alone, he couldn’t help but notice its worryingly enlarged head. However, as the homeowner monitored the deer, he realized it was in dire trouble. Consequently, they reached out to help.
For the residents of Colts Neck, NJ, seeing white-tailed deer in their own backyards was not unusual. In the spring months, herds could often be spotted grazing along roadsides or in gardens. And for the most part, the animals lived side by side with humans, without any need of intervention.
However, in March 2018 a resident spotted a young deer that was so unusual it stopped him in his tracks. While the buck had the usual slim brown body covered in soft brown fur, it also sported a large, bulbous head.
Unsurprisingly, the onlooker grew concerned about the little deer, who was roaming the vicinity alone. While deer are usually herd animals, some species will ostracize individuals if they appear different or have an injury.
By closing ranks on the perceived outcast, animals believe they are protecting their herd. Predators may see injured or unusual individuals as weak links. So by forcing them to live on their own, the herd believes they are reducing the risk of attack.
Despite the reasoning behind the young buck’s exclusion from his herd, the prospect of him having to graze alone at night proved heartbreaking for the Colts Neck resident. So he decided to step in to help.
However, upon closer inspection, the resident discovered that the buck wasn’t deformed or injured at all. Instead, it had somehow gotten a glass bowl stuck on its head. It’s thought water had collected in the bowl, and the deer had become trapped while trying to take a drink.
Given the glass orb on its head, the young buck had been unable to eat and drink for days. With that in mind, time was running out to help the poor animal. So the homeowner reached out to experts at the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife and the Monmouth County SPCA (MCSPCA).
When teams from the MCSPCA arrived on the scene, they decided to humanely sedate the deer. Once he was knocked out, experts treated some small grazes. Then they got to work on freeing the animal from his transparent prison.
Writing on Facebook, a spokesperson from the MCSPCA later revealed, “The glass bowl was removed, which turned out to be a light fixture cover.” However, that wasn’t the end of the little deer’s problems.
The post continued, “The buck was dehydrated from four days without food and water. [He] had a couple of scrapes, probably from the poor visibility, but was able to get up and walk away after we cleaned him up and the sedative had worn off.”
At this point, it appeared that it was a job well done for the staff at the MCSPCA. However, over the next few hours, the animal’s condition appeared to deteriorate. So the resident recalled the team to the scene.
The resident had grown concerned after noticing that the deer was having difficulty breathing. Furthermore, the buck had become exhausted while trying to find the rest of his herd. Consequently, it was laying on the ground, seemingly too weak to move.
It was vet Deann Bowen’s job to try and restore the animal’s health. To do so, he administer some much needed fluids. “We could tell he was completely dehydrated by the way he looked,” Bowen explained in a MCSPCA press release from April 2018.
And thankfully, Bowen’s intervention appeared to do the trick. “After we administered the fluids his head perked right up. After a few minutes his breathing returned to normal,” the vet revealed.
Although the buck appeared to be back to normal, the MCSPCA team decided to stick around to make sure the animal was fighting fit. So it must have come as a great joy to them when the deer skipped off into the woods.
No one is entirely sure what became of the young buck. However, there is a good chance that he was accepted back into his herd. “Monmouth County SPCA has been told that there is no longer a single deer feeding. So, it is happily assumed that he has rejoined his herd,” read the MCSPCA press release.
After its successful rescue attempt, the MCSPCA took to Facebook to pay tribute to those who make its work possible. “We’re thankful we have such a dedicated team of professionals who go above and beyond for all species,” the post read. “We can do it all because of supporters like you.”
News of the deer’s rescue delighted the shelter’s followers. The post relaying the young buck’s story attracted more than 5,000 reactions and 1,600 shares. Moreover, it received countless comment from grateful animal lovers who wanted to thank the MCSPCA for its good work.
In the comment section, one user wrote, “So wonderful when humans benefit wildlife for a change.” Meanwhile, another person wrote, “Thank you for your work and dedication. That deer would have surely died otherwise. Now it can lead a normal life.”