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On June 26, a white tailed doe attacked and killed a dog in the Piedmont area of Duluth, MN. The dog, Mijo, a four and one-half pound Chin-Pin was owned by Lara Mary. Lara received a call from her mother, Shelley, and was told that Mijo was on the way to the Airport Animal Hospital after the attack, but the dog succumbed to its injuries on the way.
Shelley had let Mijo outside on a leash, but she did not expect what was about to happen. “Mijo was on a leash and walked to the side of the house where my mom didn’t see him for a second, and then the deer came charging after him hoofing him and stomping at him, and knocked him on the head and with one blow he was out. My mom tried to get to Mijo, and the deer stood over him and guarded the body and stared my mom down and wouldn’t let her get to him until she made a bunch of noise and physically approached the deer to scare it off,” said Lara. Once the dying Mijo was retrieved and brought inside, the deer came back and defecated on the porch.
Lara explained that her mother’s house is by Miller Creek where deer are a common sight but deer attacks are generally unheard of, “Miller Creek runs right through the development through the center of the area. There’s a wooded area and all the houses are without fences except for like one house. We see them (deer) all the time, like on the street and in our yards and they’ve been coexisting peacefully with the neighborhood. Usually when my dog would see them they both freeze and then kind of be standoffish and go on their own way up until this point it’s never been an issue.”
After the attack, Lara called the Department of Natural Resources to report the attack. After being referred to several different conservation officers she was told, “it’s not super common that this happens and if it does, even a week or so different, the deer probably wouldn’t have been as aggressive as she probably just laid the fawn somewhere. The DNR guy mentioned that last year he was hunting with his dog. The dog was off the leash and running around and then all of a sudden he just came charging out of the bush, ears back like super terrified, and right behind him was a doe who was chasing him away from her fawns. So they are known to do this, I did get that out of them. But really there’s nothing they could do unless it became a pattern of aggression where it’s going around the neighborhood terrorizing everybody, then they would probably put it down.” Lara also mentioned that one of her coworker’s dogs was recently attacked by a deer in a separate incident.
We talked with retired conservation officer and Reader nature writer, Ralph LaPlant, about if he had heard of deer attacks during his years out in the wilderness. He said that he hadn’t heard of deer attacking dogs, but added that it’s much more common for dogs to attack deer. He mentioned that there are even laws where an officer can shoot a dog if it is seen attacking a deer. LaPlant said that moose, which are related to deer, tend to be much more aggressive and he himself has been charged by a bull moose, where luckily he was able to escape in his truck.
From what we gathered from looking into this story, deer might be extra aggressive during two parts of the year. Does may be prone to attack when their fawns are young in the spring time. Bucks are known to be aggressive in the late fall during their rut season. Overall, incidents of deer attacking people or domestic animals are rare according to conservation officers.