The orange vest on this deer may do more harm than good.
Editorial note: This post was originally published in March, 2020.
Sometimes humans interfere with nature and end up doing more harm than good in the end, no matter how good their intentions were. That seems to be the case for a young deer in Mishawaka, Indiana.
An employee of WSBT 22 News recently spotted a young deer that appears to be wearing a blaze orange vest wandering around an urban area. While some at the news station thought the deer looked "cute" in the vest, it was concerning for the DNR officer they showed the footage to.
"Obviously a deer grows at a pretty rapid rate, so within the scope of about six to nine months, the deer will become so large that it's unmanageable," Indiana DNR Officer Matt Maher told the station.
Video of the deer can be seen on WSBT's website here.
Right now, it is believed the animal was formerly someone's pet before it was released back into the wild. The person or persons responsible then likely added the orange into an attempt to protect the animal from danger. The deer isn't showing any obvious signs of distress in the video and it appears to be socializing with another group of animals. Still, authorities believe that while the vest isn't causing problems now, it will in the very near future.
"We definitely believe if the vest is not removed, it will cause a significant amount of trauma to the animal," Maher said.
Fortunately, the DNR is working with experts on large big game animals about tranquilizing the animal and removing the vest. They are asking anyone who sees the animal to call in tips on its whereabouts to the DNR.
As strange as this story is, it isn't the first time we here at Wide Open Spaces have heard of a deer wearing blaze orange. Four years ago, a hunter in Wisconsin took several videos of a young button buck wearing a scrap of orange around his neck. It's very likely that deer was also raised in an environment with humans and didn't harbor a natural fear of them as a result.
This is one of the main reasons wildlife officials across the country recommend against bringing young fawns into contact with humans or "rescuing" them. The animals will lose their natural fear and are more likely to put themselves in harm's way.