Sightings of a deer with a rope around its neck — and antlers dangling from it — has raised concerns among Tri-Cities residents, who fear for the animal's health.
"It's only a matter of time before it gets tighter," said Jack Evans, a wildlife biologist with the B.C. Ministry of Forests.
He said the animal is not in immediate danger, but there is concern the rope could get caught on a bush, or even get so tight, the animal could be strangled.
Evans, whose office is in Surrey, said he is collecting information about recent sightings to put together a map, with the goal of eventually finding the deer and removing the rope.
"It's had lots of public attention and we're trying to develop a pattern for where this animal is spending time."
The idea is to develop an understanding of the animal's habits to eventually track and tranquilize it to remove the rope, which also has antlers dangling from the loop.
Rope, antlers like 'a necklace'
Evans said the rope has likely been on the animal for some time, noting that it probably first got caught in the deer's antlers. But, in January, when deer lose their antlers, the entangled rack and rope fell around the animal's neck like "a necklace."
"It's more of a nuisance," said Evans, who said the male Columbian black-tailed deer is in remarkably good shape, healthier than most deer feeding off woody shoots this time of year.
Likely the deer is a "backyard deer," feeding on early grass, and Evans said he hopes alerting the public will help pinpoint the animal's whereabouts.
Cameras may be even be installed in people's yards to get a better sense of the creature's habits in the morning and evening.
Evans said multiple sightings have been reported since March 8, with the last good sighting around 7 p.m. on Monday (March 27) at Anmore Elementary (30 Elementary Rd.).
It's also been seen close to the tidal waters of Mossom Creek off of Ioco Road.
The Mossom Creek Hatchery group has been helping spread the word by posting a message from Evans on its Facebook page.
Evans said he appreciates the efforts people are going through to save the animal.