Manitoba Conservation is instituting a new policy after a pet deer was shot dead in front of its owners this week.
Manitoba’s minister of conservation, Gord Mackintosh, said a new directive has been issued that killing animals who have become too comfortable with people will only be done as a last resort.
The directive also states that animals will never be killed when people are watching.
“If euthanasia is indeed the last resort, we want to make sure our human sensibilities aren’t offended,” Mackintosh said Thursday.
On Feb. 2, conservation officers shot a pet deer, nicknamed Bambi, in front of shocked members of a the Windy Bay Hutterite colony.
Many members of the colony saw the deer writhing on the ground before dying and being taken away.
The officers were sent after someone called wildlife officials with concern about the deer getting bigger. The person was concerned about the safety of children and just wanted the animal to be relocated, colony member Evie-Lynn Maendel said Wednesday.
Six months ago, a colony member accidentally mowed over the deer with a lawn mower.
The deer survived, and some members of the colony nursed him back to health.
“I took it in as a deer. I loved that deer,” said Ray Gross.
Gross said the deer became beloved in the community, and a pet dog even befriended Bambi.
But someone complained, and on the weekend, conservation officials showed up and shot Bambi with a 9 mm pistol while people looked on.
“It fell down right away, and then it got half-ways up, and then it started kicking for about two minutes,” said Gross.
“It wasn’t the professional way of doing it.”
Manitoba Conservation agreed with Gross.
Provincial officials are investigating the case and said the new directive for handling animal euthanasia has already been put in place, though conservation officials still maintain it’s illegal and unsafe to take in wild animals.
Gross said he didn’t see any other option, and he wanted to “help it through the winter so it would go along in the spring, but I guess it never got that far.”
Lisa Tretiak, president of the Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, said people should never take in wild animals as pets.
She said no sanctuary in Manitoba can take in deer, and often killing the animal is the only option.
Bambi’s shooting by conservation officers wasn’t the first time a pet deer was killed in front of its owners, according to several people in Saint Eustache.
Several members of the rural community adopted a deer that wandered into town.
Again, someone complained, and conservation officials destroyed it in a nearby field as people watched.
Phillipe Beaudin said a number of people in the town loved the animal.
“They were happy to see a deer that could wander around and be a friend to everybody,” said Beaudin.