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Yosemite's 'Bambi' Can Be Deadly

February 21, 1988|From United Press International

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK — When visitors to Yosemite National Park are warned to be wary of the animals, most think immediately of bears or snakes.

But park rangers are referring specifically to deer when they tell visitors to keep their distance from the wildlife.

"All too often, visitors arrive in the park with a 'Bambi syndrome'--the perception that deer are gentle little creatures wanting love and affection," said Paul Anderson, a Yosemite district ranger.

"In reality, deer are wild, unpredictable animals that are capable of inflicting serious injury or death," he said.

Last fall, three park visitors were reported injured in incidents involving deer, and Anderson believes there were probably at least a dozen more incidents involving deer that were not reported because the injuries were not serious.

On Dec. 5, a park employee out on a stroll was the victim of an unprovoked attack by a deer.

The employee said she was walking along a road when a young buck approached, reared up on its hind legs and hit her with its hoofs. The woman was wearing a heavy coat and turned her back, so she was not seriously injured.

State Fish and Game hunters tracked down and destroyed the animal after residents in the area reported other incidents involving the same deer.

Anderson said most of the reported deer incidents in the park last fall occurred on the golf course at Wawona where the deer like to graze.

The most serious incident in 1987 involved a 2-year-old boy who suffered major facial lacerations when he got too close to a deer that was feeding. When the deer lifted its head, its antlers caught the boy's face, opening a gash from his nose to his forehead.

In other incidents, cuts and bruises were inflicted by deer hoofs.

In 1977, a 5-year-old boy was killed in the park when he was gored while feeding deer in the Wawona area.

"We are trying to convince visitors that 'Bambi' can kill," Anderson said. "Reality is not like a Walt Disney movie and the sooner people realize it, the sooner we'll stop having injuries caused by deer."

Anderson said people do some strange things when they get near wild animals.

"A ranger reported seeing a man trying to climb onto the back of a deer a couple of months ago, apparently trying to ride it," he said. "Luckily the deer just moved away instead of turning on the man."

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