The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Mule deer returns to wild

 

David Stevens

The wild deer spent most of Monday afternoon lounging around Hillcrest Park.

CLOVIS — An adventuresome deer who spent most of the day roaming and resting in Clovis' Hillcrest Park returned to his more natural habitat about 5:15 p.m. Monday.

Game Warden Clay Moyers said the 100-pound mule deer was last seen heading east in a field near Clovis Community College after arising from his afternoon rest stop under a shed at the park.

Moyers said there were plans to slowly herd the animal that direction as afternoon temperatures near 90 began to cool, but the deer left on his own before officials could encourage him. First he slipped through a hole in a park fence and ran south along Sycamore Street before turning east onto Seventh.

Moyers said "honking horns" from traffic may have spooked the buck, but he appeared uninjured as he left the city limits while Moyers followed in his vehicle.

Moyers said he "never saw any close calls" involving the deer and traffic and that he crossed through the intersection at Seventh and Norris "with the light."

He was last seen "hanging out where deer normally hang out," the warden said.

City of Clovis officials said they first saw the deer wandering around town early before settling into the park about 8 a.m.

By noon, the buck was mostly napping under a shed, behind the aquatic center, where he stayed five-plus hours.

Facebook images suggested a deer actually spent Sunday night in Clovis, with one video showing a deer running north down Prince Street near Red Lobster restaurant.

Moyers said most New Mexico cities have deer in their city limits most of the time, though it's rare in Clovis.

He said the deer posed no danger to anyone so long as they remained a safe distance away.

Early Monday afternoon, as the deer lounged around the shed while city officials watched from about 100 yards away, Moyers said the plan was to do nothing until just before dark. By then, he said, cooler temperatures and reduced traffic would increase the likelihood the deer could return home safely.

He said Curry County is home to multiple wild deer, including some east of the college and others south of Clovis near the city landfill.

Moyers said he could have shot the animal with a tranquilizer, but that would likely have caused it to run for 10 or 15 minutes until the tranquilizer could take effect. The deer might run itself to death in that scenario, Moyers said early Monday afternoon.

Access to the park was limited as officials tried to keep the deer quiet and contained near the shed before it decided to trot off.

 

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