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Dad fatally shoots deer after it charges pregnant woman, stomps dogs

Parks and Wildlife deems killing justified after animal endangered humans
A deer interrupted the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic dual slalom men's race in 2022. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

A deer in El Paso County stomped two dogs Friday evening and charged a pregnant woman, whose father tried to scare the deer with a nonlethal round before shooting and killing it, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials said.

The deer killing was justified, as the deer was endangering “human health and safety,” said wildlife officials, who did not issue a citation.

The doe was stomping dogs in an area northwest of Colorado Springs, and the woman heard screaming from her fenced-in backyard. She rushed into the yard to scare away the deer, and the doe reared up on its hind legs before charging the woman.

The woman’s father tried shooting at the deer with a round used for hazing bears or other dangerous wildlife, rubber buckshot. The deer continued charging, according to CPW investigators, and the woman’s father then shot and killed the deer.

“Deer, elk and moose can become aggressive in the late spring and early summer when their young are first born and defenseless,” said Tim Kroening, CPW’s area wildlife manager for the Pikes Peak region. “The majority of aggressive behavior from these animals in some way involves a dog, who they see as a predator and threat to their young.”

Officers did find a nearby fawn that apparently belonged to the deer. It was taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center, and will eventually be released back to the wild.

The deer incident follows closely on three high-profile stompings by elk in Estes Park, where residents and visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park have long mixed with the big animals that wander across hiking and biking trails and through backyards. The three stompings by elk in two weeks prompted a state warning of unprecedented calving-season danger.

In the most recent Estes Park incident, an adult woman was walking a dog using a leash, near South St. Vrain and Stanley avenues, when an elk 20 yards away was startled. The woman tried to run behind a tree, but was knocked down by the elk and stomped and kicked repeatedly. The woman is receiving medical treatment.

The elk cow’s calf was later spotted in the area.

The recent incidents have happened to adults and children doing everyday activities from walking dogs to riding bikes.

“We’ve never seen a year like this,” said Jason Duetsch, area manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “All three attacks have been unprovoked and unfortunate accidents.”

In one earlier incident, a 4-year-old boy was stomped repeatedly by an elk at the Stanley Park playground early Monday afternoon. The boy was taken to the hospital, treated and released. Two elk calves were hidden behind rocks nearby, which makes wildlife officers think the mama elk reacted to a perceived threat.

A week earlier, an 8-year-old girl on a bike was charged from 60 yards away and stomped by a cow elk. The child was treated at a hospital and released later that day.

Wildlife officers “hazed” the elk with bean bag guns and chased them from the area, and are closing trail sections or putting up aggressive animal warnings when needed.

Visitors and residents in the area should be “extra cautious” outdoors until elk calving season ends over the next few weeks, state officials said. Like black bears and moose, female elk are highly protective of newborns and may charge when humans get in between or otherwise are seen as a threat.

CPW says a fence taller than 6 feet is needed to keep deer out, and they recommend keeping pets on a leash at all times when outdoors.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to covering Colorado issues. To learn more, go to coloradosun.com.