Michigan DNR Seeking Fallow Deer

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Reports that several fallow deer have been released or have escaped from existing and decommissioned privately owned cervid facilities in southwest Michigan have prompted the Department of Natural Resources to ask the public to help locate the non-native deer in that region.

While investigating a recent case of five fallow deer that were unlawfully released, DNR law enforcement and wildlife officials have turned up more evidence that many more fallow deer may have been unlawfully released from other facilities in southwest Michigan.

"Fallow deer are not native to Michigan and pose a significant disease threat to our white-tailed deer herd," said DNR Wildlife Division Assistant Chief Doug Reeves. "We also have learned that a fallow deer purchased in Wisconsin, where there is established chronic wasting disease in cervidae, was likely released in this region. We are particularly concerned about this deer, and would like to find it and remove it from the area as quickly as possible."

Fallow deer are native to Europe and some Asian countries. While fallow deer vary in color, the most common form is a deer with a brown coat and white spotting. These animals should not be mistaken for spotted white-tailed deer fawns. Male fallow deer often have large, reindeer-like antlers. Fallow deer can potentially out-compete white-tailed deer for both food and habitat, DNR wildlife officials said.

Fallow deer may be legally hunted by licensed hunters during any regular hunting season, including spring turkey and small game. Any hunter who takes a fallow deer is asked to immediately contact the nearest DNR office for assistance and disease testing procedures. Anyone who sees a fallow deer should report it to the nearest DNR office or call the DNR's Report All Poaching (RAP) Line at 800-292-7800 to report its location to conservation officers.

"We do not want fallow deer to establish a population in our state due to the health and habitat threats to our white-tailed deer herd," Reeves said. "We are asking hunters and the public to help us locate and remove these deer."

DNR law enforcement and wildlife officials also remind all Michigan citizens that in order to possess privately-owned cervids in the state of Michigan, you must be registered through the DNR. The law regarding privately-owned cervids and the registration application can be found on the DNR's Web site at www.michigan.gov/dnr. Both native and exotic cervids must be registered. Members of the Cervidae family include sitka deer, sika deer, fallow deer, axis deer, muntjac deer, white-tailed deer, elk, red deer, moose, caribou, reindeer, mule deer and any hybrids. It is a felony in Michigan to release these animals into the wild.