A young whitetail buck living in a Florida neighborhood had to be put down by law enforcement on Oct. 5 after it attacked a man in his yard. Some residents of the Palm Coast community were upset with the way officers handled the situation, according to the Observer. Video footage recorded that day shows the sheriff’s deputies tying the buck to a telephone pole, using a knife to cut its throat, and letting it bleed out over the next 15 to 20 minutes.
Authorities were first notified of the incident around 9:39 a.m. Thursday. A 911 caller reported that their neighbor had been mauled by the buck while he was working in his garden. The buck then tried to attack the caller and wouldn’t leave the front yard. Meanwhile, the victim drove himself to the hospital for treatment.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission dispatched wildlife officers within the hour, but deputies with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office arrived at the scene first. The FWC had advised the deputies to “put it down” if they got there first, but told them not to shoot the deer in the head since it had to be tested for chronic wasting disease, according to a report secured by the Observer. (The state’s post-mortem CWD protocol requires the agency to remove samples from the brain stem.)
Footage from a body camera worn by one of the Sheriff’s deputies shows what happened next. The footage is graphic and viewer discretion is advised.
At the beginning of the roughly 27-minute clip, the small forkhorned buck walks right up to the deputy holding the catch pole and allows him to slip the loop over its neck. The deer goes wild when the noose is tightened, jumping and charging at the deputy as it tries to break free. The deputy’s partner then grabs a lariat and gets another loop around the deer’s midsection. They take the other end of the rope and wrap it around a telephone pole in the front yard to keep the buck in place.
By this point some of the surrounding neighbors have heard the commotion and stepped outside to watch. Roughly three to four minutes into their recorded struggle with the deer, the deputy with the catch pole holds the buck down while his partner slits its throat with a pocketknife.
“This is what happens when people feed deer around here,” one of the deputies tells an onlooker. “Now we gotta put a deer down because somebody wants to feed him.”
While the buck bleeds in the grass in the victim’s front yard, the victim’s wife steps outside her door to watch and ask questions.
“The sad part is we have to make sure nothing is wrong with him inside,” the deputy explains to her. “So that’s why we can’t shoot him in the head.”
The deer bleeds out over the next 12 to 13 minutes and then a wildlife officer with the FWC arrives. After more than five minutes of debate about how to put the suffering deer out of its misery, another wildlife officer shows up, grabs the deputy’s knife, and cuts all the way through the buck’s throat. By this point, the victim has returned home from the hospital and he tells the authorities about his experience with the buck.
“I wasn’t feeding him, but someone was,” the victim says. “Want to know a story I heard on this guy? Somebody raised him.”
The euthanized buck was well known in the neighborhood, and some residents had named it “Baboo,” according to the Observer. The local news outlet also reports that on Oct. 1, just four days before the attack, a man in the neighborhood had called the local sheriff’s office to complain about the buck. He told them the deer was living in someone’s backyard as a pet, and he expressed his concern that it was becoming dangerously comfortable around humans. The sheriff’s office reportedly told the man that wildlife problems were under FWC’s purview.
In an emailed statement, an FWC spokesperson told the Observer that the deer “was humanely euthanized after it did not retreat and was sent to Gainesville for testing.”