Survival Animal Attacks

Man Shoots Deer that Attacked His Pregnant Daughter in Her Own Backyard

The incident adds to a string of "unprecedented" elk and deer attacks that have taken place in Colorado since late May
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A mule deer doe stands in tall grass.
Officials believe the deer was protecting its fawn, which they later found nearby. Photo by Tom Koerner / USFWS

A Colorado man shot and killed a deer that was attacking his pregnant daughter in her own yard on Friday night. The self-defense shooting adds to a string of elk and deer attacks that have taken place in the state over the last two weeks.

Officials with Colorado with Parks and Wildlife said in a news release that Friday’s incident took place in El Paso County near Colorado Springs. They said the deer had jumped into the daughter’s fenced-in backyard, where it attacked her two dogs. When the woman tried to scare the deer away, it “reared up on its hind legs” and charged her.

The woman’s father then stepped outside with a shotgun, and he tried to thwart the charge by shooting the deer with rubber buckshot. (Officials said this was the same nonlethal round they’d given the man in the past to haze black bears with.) It’s unclear how many rounds of rubber buckshot he fired, but they weren’t enough to stop the deer.  

“The deer ignored the shots, continuing to charge toward the woman as she tried to get away,” CPW officials said, “so her father shot and killed the deer.”

It’s unclear what kind of shotgun load the man used in his follow-up shot, and a CPW spokesperson could not immediately provide additional details.

After a brief investigation, CPW ruled that the man killed the deer in defense of his daughter, and he did not receive a citation. Officials also found a fawn nearby that was taken to a local wildlife rehabilitation facility. They believe the fawn belonged to the deer, which could explain why the deer attacked the two dogs in the backyard in the first place.

“Deer, elk and moose can become aggressive in the late spring and early summer when their young are first born and defenseless,” CPW wildlife manager Tim Kroenig said of the incident. “The majority of aggressive behavior from these animals in some way involves a dog, who they see as a predator and threat to their young.”

Read Next: Deer Attacked 3 Dog Owners in the Same Canadian Town Last Week

Wildlife officials gave the same explanation for a separate elk attack that took place earlier that day in a different Colorado town more than 130 miles to the north. In that incident, a woman in Estes Park was walking her leashed dog in the middle of town when a cow elk charged her from 20 yards away. The elk, which had a calf nearby, knocked the woman down and kicked her several times.

Friday’s incident was also the third elk attack to take place in Estes Park in a span of only eight days. Although the small tourist town sees elk-human conflicts every year during the winter and spring, when herds move down from nearby Rocky Mountain National Park, CPW officials have called the series of attacks “unprecedented” because of the circumstances surrounding them.

The other two elk attacks, which took place on May 31 and June 4, involved young children in Estes Park. Neither child had a dog with them, and they seemed to be minding their own business at the time.

In the June 4 incident, a four-year-old boy was charged and stomped on by a cow elk while on the playground at Stanley Park. CPW officials explained in a press release that there were two elk calves hidden nearby, but nobody saw them until it was too late. The young boy was taken to a hospital, where he was treated and released later that day.

The May 31 incident involved an eight-year-old girl, who was riding her bike in Estes Park when she was charged by a cow elk from roughly 60 yards away. The elk stomped on her multiple times, and she was released from the hospital that day after receiving treatment. Upon investigation, a wildlife officer found the cow with its calf, and he had to shoot the cow with a non-lethal bean bag round when it became aggressive toward him.

Read Next: Colorado Sheriff’s Deputy Shoots, Kills Charging Cow Moose

“Cow elk with young calves are known to be aggressive, however we’ve never seen a year like this,” CPW wildlife manager Jason Duetsch said on Friday, referring to the three attacks that have taken place in Estes Park since May 31. “All three attacks have been unprovoked and unfortunate accidents. We have no clear evidence to suggest these attacks were from the same animal, which underscores how uncommon the elk behavior has been.”