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SCDNR, police release more information into deer attack in Aiken County

January 30, 2019

Aiken Public Safety and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources have released more information related to the deer attack in Aiken County earlier this month.

On Jan. 19, at approximately 9 a.m., an SCDNR officer in Aiken County was contacted by S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control regarding an aggressive “spike” deer they wanted to examine for public health purposes after reports of several incidents involving the public, said Kaley Lawrimore, with SCDNR.

At approximately 10 a.m., Aiken Public Safety officers were dispatched to Anderson Pond Road in reference to a 22-year-old woman being actively attacked by a deer, according to the report.

When officers arrived, they were told the woman was on a walking trail in the woods off Anderson Pond Road. Officers entered the woods and observed the woman who had a buck by the antlers, police reported.

The deer was “jumping and thrashing around” while the victim attempted to protect herself, according to the report.

As an officer approached the deer, the victim lost her grip and the deer ran several yards toward a pond, stopping to look back at officers before trotting off, police reported.

Investigators reported the deer was “abnormal and seemed to be unafraid of our presence.”

The victim had light abrasions on her face and bruises on her arms, police reported.

She said she was running on the trail when the deer came out of the woods and began chasing her. The deer then “turned sideways like he was going to spar with another deer,” and would not let her pass, according to the report.

The victim, who was a wildlife biology graduate, described the deer as a male “spike,” with a ring of disturbed fur as if it had been wearing a collar for some time, Lawrimore said.

Officers walked further up the trail and found another person who said the deer had just come up to them. As officers approached the bystander, the deer exited the woods and entered the field where officers were located, walking toward them without fear, police reported.

One of the officers discharged one round from a rifle and hit the deer in the chest, the report states.

The deer then traveled a few feet before coming to a rest and dying, police said.

The deer appeared to be well fed, with no external signs of injury apart from the gunshot wound to the upper torso, and no obvious illnesses, Lawrimore reported.

SCDNR deer biologist Charles Ruth said the 1-year-old deer was “hand-raised as a fawn,” which is likely why the animal was so comfortable coming close to humans.

“Since it was hand-raised, it associates people with good things and obviously, this looked like aggressive behavior, but it was almost certainly the deer simply wanting to play because that’s how it was raised,” Ruth said. “If someone puts their hands on the deer, that encourages it to play harder, and I think that’s what we saw in those several incidents.”

SCDNR reminds residents that “it is unlawful to import, possess or transport for the purpose of release, or to introduce or bring into this state any live wildlife of the following types without a permit from the SCDNR: a member of the family Cervidae (deer, moose, elk, etc.), bear, turkey, furbearers (fox, raccoon, opossum, muskrat, mink, skunk, coyote, otter, bobcat, weasel and beaver), a nondomestic member of the families Suidae or Tayassuidae (pigs), or Bovidae (bison, antelope, mountain goat, mountain sheep) (50-16-20).”

Following the incident on Jan. 19, DHEC took possession of the deer carcass to study.

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