MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, AR (abc24.com) - Bambi can roam in your backyard, but he better not be on a leash.
In a few weeks people living in Arkansas will be banned from keeping deer as pets. The state's Game and Fish Commission says it's for the safety of the deer as well as yours.
The Commission is trying to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease among deer. It's a fatal illness that attacks the brain. Keeping deer as pets could make the animals vulnerable.
“I mowed one strip and when I came back the little fellow was standing up between my tractor tracks,” said Tony McLaughlin, who picked up a deer last weekend. He's kept many as pets over the years and says the vast majority of people aren't cut out for it.
“The people that never raised one, they need to read all that they can about it because it's not easy to raise them and it's not cheap,” McLaughlin said.
That's exactly why Arkansas's Game and Fish Commission will not allow anyone to capture and keep a deer as a pet. Arkansas's deer population is at stake.
“We have seen quite a bit of owners holding deer as pets in unsanitary conditions. White tails are very sensitive to E. Coli and salmonella, which originate from unsanitary conditions and it can cause death to these animals in a very short amount of time,” said Cory Gray, certified Biologist and Deer Program Coordinator for the Game and Fish Commission.
The Game and Fish Commission is also trying to prevent deer attacks. During mating season deer, especially bucks, can become aggressive.
“We also have concerns and have numerous reports of deer causing harm to humans, in particular bucks. We have reports of people with broken noses and broken teeth, have been hurt by a buck deer,” Gray said.
As for Tony, he released the deer he found. While they can make good pets, they can also be high maintenance.
“The way I work now, I don't have time, I don't have the facilities to keep one,” McLaughlin said.
The ban on capturing and keeping deer as pets goes into effect in July. Current deer owners will have to have them registered with the Game and Fish Commission before then.