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Wire ensnares Sunnybrook deer

A Sunnybrook Park Zoo buck, right, still wears a reminder of its tangle with a fence several weeks ago. The wire around its antlers is not barbed, and the buck is in no immediate danger, said Ron Bucholz, Wadena public works director. Photo by Zach Kayser

The days immediately following Thanksgiving can typically be a time to put up traditional holiday trappings, like lights and tinsel. However, a deer in the Sunnybrook Park Zoo has been dealing with some unwanted decorations - a length of wire tangled around its antlers that has some in the community worried for the animal's safety.

City officials first became aware of the problem about six weeks ago, when a concerned citizen called in to report that the buck had gotten itself snared in a fence originally put up to protect a tree inside the deer enclosure, said Ron Bucholz, Wadena public works director.

"He was trying to get out, so he was pretty worked up," Bucholz said.

The city then worked to cut the deer loose from the fence, which can be a difficult task. They managed to free the deer from the fence itself, but a snarl of wire was still wrapped around the upper part of its antlers, and has stayed there ever since the incident.

Bucholz said the city initially considered tranquilizing the buck in order to remove the wire completely, as several visitors to the zoo have suggested. However, that option was ruled out after they consulted with both the DNR Wildlife Management Office at Park Rapids and Dr. Christine Krell of Krell Veterinary Services, a local mobile veterinary clinic.

Rob Naplin of the Park Rapids DNR office explained the potential risks involved with tranquilizing deer.

"We recommend against that because whenever you look at tranquilizing an animal, you've got to be very accurate on the dosage ... there's always a possibility that if you tranquilize them, they may not come out of the tranquilizer," Naplin said.

Bucholz added that since the wire is not barbed and poses no immediate threat to the deer's safety, the city plans to let the wire remain until the deer sheds its antlers later this winter - but they will remain vigilant in case the situation changes.

For now, the buck is being monitored closely, Bucholz said.