JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. – A peculiar pet roaming around Jefferson County has caused growing concern among Missouri officials and residents.
It was the spotting of a four-point buck in Jefferson County that prompted recent concerns. The peculiar paint spelling out “pet” and the collar around his neck were not usual. But for those who live in the Madison Oaks neighborhood in Festus, this was nothing new.
“We were sitting up there eating, and here he is walking up in the backyard, and I look at [my wife] going, ‘What’s going on? He’s not scared?,'” said Craig Brooks.
Brooks has lived in the neighborhood for years, but within the last year, he and his neighbors have noticed the domesticated deer making its rounds around houses in the subdivision.
“By the burn pile, he’s from me to you,” he told FOX 2’s interview team. “I didn’t feel comfortable with him being that close.”
Brooks went on to explain that discomfort only grew with the deer coming close to their one-year-old puppy, Reny.
“To be that trusting, it’s not normal for a deer,” said Ann Brooks.
Several sightings later, and state officials were on it with the support of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, who also became aware of sightings in the county.
“Our agent from that county came to investigate,” said Dan Zarlenga with the Missouri Department of Conservation. “By the time he got there the deer was gone and there was no sign of it.”
Zarlenga says domesticated wildlife isn’t too typical in the area.
“It’s actually illegal. It’s against the Missouri Wildlife Code to take in wild native animals as pets,” said Zarlenga.
The MDC also warns of the prevalence of chronic waste disease. “It could have a very serious impact on deer herd [and] really knock it down,” said Zarlenga.
Neighbors have noticed some signs in their recent encounters with deer.
“He did stumble and fall a few times,” said Craig Brooks. His wife Ann added, “When he was right here next to this clematis vine, I was trying to turn him and shoo him away, and he was resisting.”
Zarlenga says that’s going to make his world in the woods much more difficult. “That animal’s got a much lower chance of surviving,” he said.
With hunting season ramping up, Zarlenga urges hunters to get their deer checked at a CWD management zones. On the busiest days of the season, Nov. 11 and 12, testing for CWD is mandatory.