Environment

Aggressive deer killed after attacking SC resident was raised by people, DNR says

State deer records in South Carolina: everything you need to know

DNR wildlife biologist Charles Ruth discusses the South Carolina State deer records, including how a big buck is measured and scored. How does your kill size up? Matt Walsh, footage submitted by DNR
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DNR wildlife biologist Charles Ruth discusses the South Carolina State deer records, including how a big buck is measured and scored. How does your kill size up? Matt Walsh, footage submitted by DNR

A deer was euthanized on Jan. 19 after it became aggressive and attacked multiple South Carolina residents, according to a news release from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, or SCDNR.

SCDNR deer biologist Charles Ruth said the 1-year-old male deer was comfortable with people, because it had been hand-raised by humans when it was a fawn.

“Deer raised by people lose their natural fears and can become more aggressive around people,” Ruth said in an interview with The State. “Sometimes, when a deer displays such aggression, it will wander away. But not always, forcing the DNR and other agencies to euthanize the animals.”

The two-point deer was acting aggressively on Jan. 16, when it attacked a person in an Aiken subdivision, SCDNR reported in the news release. Another complaint was filed the following day.

On Jan. 19, officers with the Aiken Department of Public Safety responded to a call “where a deer was actively attacking someone ... (and) found the victim had light abrasions on her face and bruises on her arms,” according to the news release.

Officers found the deer about 150 yards from the scene of the attack, and when it approached them the deer was killed with a single shot, DNR said in the news release.

The deer had “a ring of disturbed fur as if it had been wearing a collar for some time,” according to DNR which said it “appeared to be well fed, with no external signs of injury and no obvious illnesses,” in the news release.

“Since it was hand-raised, it associates people with good things and although this looked like aggressive behavior, it was almost certainly the deer simply wanting to play because that’s how it was raised,” Ruth said in the news release. “If someone puts their hands on the deer, that encourages it to play harder, and I think that’s what we saw in those several incidences.”

Incidents like this encounter are not unheard of in South Carolina, Ruth told The State. He said DNR gets several calls a year about aggressive deer, and big bucks, with heads full of antlers, that could easily hurt someone.

Ruth said he remembers a deer captured on Broad River Road in Columbia several years ago that was relocated to an island in Lake Murray. Soon thereafter, it was back in a neighborhood in that heavily-populated area, he said.

S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control took the deer’s carcass to study.

DNR wildlife biologist Charles Ruth explains the best time to go hunting during South Carolina's white tail deer hunting season. Matt Walsh, footage submitted by DNR

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.
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