DWR wildlife biologist Brad Crompton grabs hold of a small buck's antlers while PRWID wastewater plant manager Brian Harris holds onto a rope that the deer got tangled in that was attached to an irrigation line.
James Edwards, a PRWID employee, untangles the rope from the deer's antlers as Harris and Crompton hold the animal down. Once undone, the deer was let up and bounded off toward the Price River.
It's not often during deer season, especially the day before the general rifle hunt opens, that a live deer bounding away is sight for all to see. Last Friday, though, it happened just that way.
Early Friday morning, Brian Harris, plant manager for Price River Water Improvement District's waste water treatment plant in Wellington, saw something unusual in the field where a line sprinkler system spreads treated effluent.
"I came down the road off the hill over there and I saw something lying in the field near the sprinkler line," said Harris that morning. "We often have deer grazing out in the field but this one was lying down. Then I realized that he was caught in one of the ropes we use to pull the line around."
Harris immediately called PRIWID's office on Fairgrounds Road. He also called the Utah State Division of Wildlife Resources, who dispatched Brad Crompton, a wildlife biologist for the division, to see what could be done to untangle the animal.
While people see DWR personnel along the Wasatch Front on television often using a drug to put animals out to untangle them from fences or other things, Crompton said that if they don't have to do that, they often don't.
"There are side effects to using those and I would rather not if we can find another way," he said. "Tranquilizers can give the animal more stress and he was already exhausted from fighting the rope."
With personnel from the plant, Crompton approached the little two point buck which obviously had wrapped the rope around its horns over and over again. It had been lying there very despondent, like it would never get away. But once it saw the men approaching, it jumped up and ran to the other side of the irrigation line. Crompton and Harris were able to grab hold of the rope. Crompton finally tackled the animal and sat on top with Harris while James Edwards, another PRWID employee, untangled the rope from the horns. As soon as that was done, Crompton took a few moments to examine the deer to be sure it was not injured. Then he and Harris let it stand up.
It bounded down the hay field, as quickly as it could go, toward the Price River and the sheltering reeds and Russian olive trees along its banks.
"He'll be okay; the rope was only tangled around his antlers," said Crompton. "He was pretty exhausted. He'll go lay down for the rest of the day and rest."
Responding to this kind of a situation is not something Crompton does all the time, but he says it does happen.
"We usually see this kind of thing where they get caught in something a couple of times a year," he said. "In this case, he was already immobilized and pretty tired by the time we got to him."
Crompton also said that deer, even small ones like this (130 lbs.), can be dangerous to the common person. If people find wild animals in distress, they should never approach them, no matter how cute or friendly they may look. They can hurt or kills someone when they are basically cornered, like the deer was on the end of the rope. A few years ago, a little boy in northern Utah was killed while trying to free a deer from a fence in which it was tangled.
"The front legs can hurt [a person] but their back legs can do some real damage to someone," said Crompton. "One time, I had some pretty thick coveralls on when we had a deer we needed to work with. By the time I was done, they were in shreds."
So all was well that ended well in Wellington, because of some caring professionals.