10-point buck takes up residence at Wichita home

Ron Curtis said at first it was a dog in his backyard, but after much inspection, he realized it was a deer.
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 9:27 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Ron Curtis said he thought it was a dog that he could barely see when he went outside to do some work in his backyard earlier this week. He soon found out, it was something much bigger.

Curtis shared photos on Facebook showing the 10-point buck that had taken up residency in the backyard of his home. Pictures taken both in the daytime and at night show the animal standing up, then laying down.

Curtis said he’s lived at his home near First and Spruce in east Wichita since he was five years old. At 55, he said this is a first.

“I looked where it’s laid, and it’s got no abrasions and no cuts on it. So, you know, I looked where it laid and there’s no blood. He’s not limping. He jumped over in their (his neighbor’s) yard, jumped back into my yard. He’s fine. But something in him, a disease, is making him, you know, act abnormal,” said Curtis.

Monday night, a Wichita police officer came out to put the buck down. They told Curtis the animal could be a traffic hazard. Curtis said the officer used a bow and arrow so as not to disturb the neighborhood.

12 News spoke with Shane Hesting Tuesday, the Wildlife Disease Coordinator with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. He explained while chronic wasting disease might be what’s first to mind, there could be other explanations.

“This is a disease that’s more common in the west, western Kansas right now. It is encroaching east. Most of your clinical deer that you’ll see will be western deer and so any clinical deer in the central and eastern part of the state might have something else,” said Hesting.

Through KDWP surveillance and monitoring, they’ve found CWD in all parts of Kansas. In the eastern portion, it’s prevalence is around one percent but moving west into central Kansas, there’s an increase to two to three percent.

In the western zone, the rage is between 30-40 percent and that increases even more in the northwestern part of Kansas.

“These symptoms are not apparent in deer until the late stage. So, deer with CWD live with it for two years. They get infected and they only exhibit these symptoms in the last few months of the disease cycle,” said Hesting.

The symptoms include the deer having a lowered head, emaciated - poor muscle tone - with bones showing and excessive salivation is common. There’s also listlessness, lethargy and lack of fear of people.

Hesting said CWD is not always the answer, as there are other conditions and illnesses that could explain some of why a deer is behaving strangely.

“Right now, we’re in the rut. We’re in the deer breeding season, and in October, they were shedding their vulva, they’re shedding their antlers. There’s a reason for that, they’re getting ready to battle, to battle for the females.” Hesting said, “The bucks, they clash heads, and some of these fights end up with bucks with tangled racks, and we call the locked bucks. They can’t get away. They’re locked together. When they do that, sometimes the base of the antlers, the pedicles of the antlers will loosen, and bacteria will get into the brain case.”

He added, “The symptoms of a brain abscess deer are very similar to a late-stage CWD deer, except those deer will look in apparently good shape, they won’t be emaciated.”

Hesting said with deer crossing roads in large numbers, sometimes cars will clip those deer but not kill them. The injury or trauma from that can lead to secondary bacterial infections that spread in the body. That sometimes leads to symptoms that can mimic CWD deer.

Hesting said if you see a deer that could be presented with an illness like CWD to call the local game warden or law enforcement. He said they allow the person reporting to put down the animal but they first need to call the game warden before taking any action.

He said it is wise for hunters to test their deer since CWD is now seen all across the state. Kansas State Vet Lab does test for CWD at the cost of $28 for the test. His message is to not eat sick wildlife.

Hesting said there is still a lot to learn about CWD.

People with questions can reach out to KDWP at 620-342-0658.