Photo Gallery | Arkansans, act fast if you want a pet deer
(WMC-TV) – If you’re interested in keeping a pet deer in Arkansas, you had better move quickly. Starting next month, it’s going to be illegal to capture a wild deer in the state.
Currently, you can legally capture up to six deer and keep them as pets. However, wildlife officials in Arkansas say that’s probably not a great idea for you or the animals.
Despite their seemingly calm demeanor, a captured deer can actually be dangerous.
“We’ve had several reports of people getting wounded, especially by bucks when the rut starts,” said Cory Gray, the Arkansas Fish and Game Commission’s deer program coordinator.
Gray said that a pet buck can “become a different creature” during the mating season.
In fact, Gray said his agency has received reports that people have had their teeth knocked out and noses broken by bucks that were kept as pets.
However, the animals themselves are frequently in the most danger.
Wild life officers in Arkansas have discovered pet deer being kept in unsanitary conditions and pens that were much too small for animals that are used to open spaces.
“Deer should not be treated like dogs or other pets and kept in small pens without adequate space to roam,” Gray said. “They are very sensitive to E. Coli and Salmonella, which originate due to unsanitary conditions.”
Stopping the potential spread of disease is probably the biggest reason the state will stop allowing people to keep deer as pets on July 1.
One very nasty ailment is called chronic wasting disease. The illness, which starts in captive deer and can spread to wild populations, is similar in effect to mad cow disease in cattle, according to scientists. Fortunately, it hasn’t been found in Arkansas yet and officials hope to keep the illness at bay.
The new rules, which go into effect July 1, won’t have an impact on deer currently kept as pets. They’re grandfathered in.
However, Gray said there will be consequences if you’re caught capturing a deer next month.
“You’ll probably get a citation and the deer would be confiscated,” he said.
So starting next month, deer are off-limits to people in Arkansas.
But you’ll still be able to keep up to six wild bobcats, coyotes, gray or red foxes, opossums, quail, rabbits, raccoons or squirrels as pets in Arkansas.
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