EAU CLAIRE, Wisc. (WEAU) - A recent close-encounter with a deer, caught on camera, has the D.N.R. warning people not to feed wild animals.
Howard Campbell, who lives on East Lexington Boulevard in Eau Claire, said seeing deer in the neighborhood is common, but a recent interaction caught him by surprise.
"I've seen them in the backyards, they come in and graze the bushes," Campbell said.
WEAU's Moms Everyday hostess Katie Kuenkel was approached by a doe in the Trinity Lutheran parking lot Friday afternoon. She said she didn't feed it, but it came up to her car and even allowed her to pet it, while Abbey Meyer was able to snap a picture and video.
"I've seen a lot of deer in my lifetime, and i find that extremely unusual," Campbell said.
"The fact that they were darn near climbing into the car, and being able to be touched and petted, I'd say there's no question that this animal has been in contact with humans, maybe since it was born," D.N.R. wildlife biologist John Dunn said after seeing the video, the deer was likely fed by humans at some point. That violates a city ordinance that could bring a $213.10 fine, but could also be dangerous.
"They could come out and eat out of your hand, and the next minute, they could be flailing at you with their hooves," he said.
He said the city does have a problem with deer over-population and one was hit in the same area, just a few hours before this one was spotted.
"You may very well be doing that deer more harm than good, if you're putting it in harm's way by requiring it to cross a road to get to where the food is," he said. "I think there could be some archery hunting in a broader text than what we have now."
Eau Claire Police Department Lead Animal Control Officer Bonnie Bertrang said she gives a warning to anyone who is known to feed deer in the city and issues a citation if they continue to do so. She said no one has been given a ticket for five years.