A deer and dog had a wild encounter in a Wauwatosa backyard
A dog and a deer were captured on video together in a Wauwatosa backyard. Footage by Mike and Janice Morgan, Edited by Hannah Kirby, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
An unlikely scene unfolded in Mike and Janice Morgan's Wauwatosa backyard on June 9.
Their 2-year-old dog, Zuzu, was caught on camera as a doe chased her around the yard.
In the video, the dog is running around and likely thinks it is playing with the deer. However, the doe appears to be marking its territory and is seen curling its front leg up, before it stamps it down forcefully. When a deer does this, it typically signifies to them that there is danger nearby, according to Dianne Robinson, wildlife biologist and wildlife educator with the Wisconsin DNR.
Earlier in the day, Janice Morgan noticed the doe lying in the corner of their yard for more than an hour.
"We didn't want to let the dog (Zuzu) out while the deer was there," Mike Morgan said.
They waited until the deer left and let Zuzu outside. Mike Morgan glanced out the window and noticed the dog and deer were sniffing each other through the fence.
"One minute they were nose-to-nose over the fence, then the deer jumps into our yard," he said.
Zuzu's owners felt nervous and Mike tried repeatedly to coax Zuzu back inside, but she had other plans.
"It seemed OK, but I wanted to get her in the house in case something happened. I wondered if the deer would bite or kick Zuzu," Mike Morgan said.
After luring Zuzu with a treat, the two-minute encounter came to an end.
"Maybe the deer thought the dog was a little deer since they’re the same color," Janice Morgan said.
Amazed but cautious
In the background, Mike Morgan could be heard calling for Zuzu.
"At first I felt a mix of it being kind of cool and fun but scary," he said.
Wild animals can be unpredictable and if the deer felt threatened, it might have attacked the dog, especially if they have a fawn nearby. It wasn't known if the deer had fawn nearby, Robinson said.
White-tailed deer have superior senses and can detect the slightest danger, according to the Wildlife Ecology page on the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point's College of Natural Resources website. When alerted, a deer will run away with its tail up. The bright white underside is very visible. This is called flagging and could be used to confuse predators and/or to warn other deer in the area. The website said other danger warnings consist of stomping their feet and snorting loudly.
Robinson added people should keep pets away from wild animals in case they cause stress to deer. Wild animals have teeth, hooves and claws which could injure other domestic animals.
While Zuzu wasn't attacked by the doe, another dog might not be as lucky, Robinson said.
Zuzu is a mixed breed of catahoula leopard and a retriever which are known to herd other animals and are protective. The Morgan family adopted her six months ago from the Wisconsin Humane Society Ozaukee Campus. Zuzu had to go through training because she was fearful and shy.
"She wasn't fearful or shy with the deer obviously," Mike Morgan laughed.
Deer sprinting in and out of yards and resting out in the open is not unheard of in urban areas. Common complaints about deer include damage to plants and gardens. The Morgan family actually doesn't mind the sight of deer around the neighborhood.
"I really like it. It is great when you live in the city and can see wildlife," Mike Morgan said.
For now, the family will keep their eyes out for any more deer and keep an eye on Zuzu to make sure she is safe from harm.
The Wisconsin DNR has a website called Keep Wildlife Wild to educate residents about what to do if they find wildlife.
Not a wildlife fan?
Not a fan of Bambie and friends? The Wisconsin Department of Resources' website offers these tools to deter wildlife from popping up around the home.
- Remove all sources of food from your yard, especially pet food and treats.
- Encircle the bottom of your porch with fencing to prevent animals from denning underneath.
- If you have birdfeeders, periodically clean up any spilled birdseed. Hang bird feeders at least 8 feet off the ground to prevent access by deer, elk and bear.
- Enclose common access points used by bats to enter homes.
- Screen window wells, chimneys, stove pipes and any vents with wire mesh or commercially made grates.
- Hazing techniques can be used to scare away nuisance coyotes. When used consistently, hazing can decrease the chances of the nuisance coyote returning to the hazing location.
Call the DNR hotline at 888-936-7463 or local municipalities with questions and concerns, or visit dnr.wi.gov.