Deer with arrow in head a no-show for tranquilization attempt
By Darren Lum
Published Jan. 23, 2018
Wildlife conservationists didn’t get their chance last week to tranquilize a local deer with an arrow in its head.
Everyone was in place at Dave Allen’s residence in Haliburton, where it had been feeding at his feeder on a daily basis for past week. The waiting party included wildlife veterinarian Dr. Sherri Cox of the National Wildlife Centre, based in Caledon, Monika Melichar of the Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary, located in Minden and three of her volunteers to act as spotters, concerned resident Allen and the media.
After more than an hour close to two dozen turkeys and several hungry deer showed up, but not the wounded deer. First, the media left and eventually, the rest of the waiting party gave up.
The wounded deer was first sighted around Christmas. Deer season ends on Dec. 15. Cox said a conservation officer with the MNR wants the arrow.
Melichar has been working for more than a week to co-ordinate this tranquilization plan to treat the deer. Initially she had reached out to Howard Smith of the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Rosseau several days earlier, but he was unable to help, leaving for holidays. Cox was sent the Echo photo and came to Haliburton via Huntsville on Wednesday, Jan. 17. Cox and Smith, who know each other, not only have the necessary skills and equipment, but also access to the drugs required for this type of tranquilization. They travel all over the province to help wildlife.
The hope was for Cox to tranquilize the deer, using a C02 powered dart gun, which gives the deer the equivalent of a bug bite. She said the deer should have succumbed to the drug’s effects within five to seven minutes. Then Cox would have performed the surgery on site to remove the arrow, treat the wound and enable recovery. Smith has returned from holidays, but has the flu and is currently unavailable for a follow-up attempt.
If tranquilization is successful, Cox is expected to return here to perform the surgery and treatment at Melichar’s sanctuary.
While waiting for the deer, Cox was optimistic about the deer’s chances for treatment.
“The fact that Monika is saying it’s eating is really good. We are really concerned. It’s hard to see by that one picture, but the angle of the arrow, whether it’s affected the jaw at all. There’s a lot of important stuff in the head,” she said, referring to the Echo photo sent to Melichar.
Among the challenges is if there are three blades to the arrow then there may be considerable damage caused by the removal. However from the photo she is hopeful this deer will require a standard procedure for arrow removal. She believes the arrow is “penetrating” the deer’s head. This is based on blood patterns behind the back of the head.
“That’s a good thing, actually. We’ll push it through. Kind of like a fish hook, if [you’re to remove] because of the barbs ... that’s the best case,” she said.
She thought a two-week period of rest and care for the deer was needed following the surgery.
This period would be to monitor the deer and ensure there wasn’t an infection from the wound.
Cox, who founded the National Wildlife Centre, finds meaning in her work and it motivates her.
“I used to work in corporate. I left that lifestyle because I wanted to go back and help wildlife. Wildlife don’t have owners. Really the public, society, is responsible for our wildlife. It’s not like a dog or cat where you can take it to the vet ... wildlife suffer horrible deaths,” she said.
The rehabilitation centres, the Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary (www.woodlandswildlifesanctuary.ca)and the National Wildlife Centre (nationalwildlifecentre.ca) and the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary (www.aspenvalley.ca) are registered charities. They accept donations.