Deer found impaled on London fence should recover, with a little (more) luck

[Credit: Salthaven Wildlife Rehabilitation & Education Centre]

A young buck who became impaled on a fence in London, Ontario, was actually quite lucky, his rescuers say. If his wound had been just a few inches in another direction, he might not have survived.

Brian Salt of the Salthaven Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre was one of the rescuers called in by homeowners who had found the deer stuck on their fence. “He got hung up on the fence, where the wrought iron spike pierced the inner part of his leg,” Salt told Global News, “and he hung there from five o’clock in the morning until we were called.”

It was a grisly scene, and those who saw it weren’t sure the animal would come out of it alive. “It was a pretty horrific looking sight, and of course in the first sense you think, ‘this animal has to be put down and put out of his pain and misery.'”

police and two others carrying the deer on a stretcher
Rescuing the deer was a collaboration between several different animal agencies, as well as the London Police. [Credit: Salthaven Wildlife Rehabilitation & Education Centre]
But as it turned out, if you’re going to be stabbed by a fence, the location of the deer’s wound is the best you could hope for. The spike missed the femoral artery and didn’t damage the muscles or soft tissue too badly because “it kind of went in between the muscle flaps.”

Removing the animal became a joint effort between Salthaven, the London Animal Care Centre, Western University’s Vet Services, and the London Police. The vet brought anaesthetics, which were used to sedate the deer, and the team lifted it from the fence. The wound was then cleaned, and the deer was given antibiotics and tagged to mark it as off-limits for hunters this season.

The time of year is another factor that will work in the buck’s favour. Fly season has ended, so the likelihood of the wound — which had to be left open — attracting flies is low.

As long as the injury doesn’t get infected, Salt thinks the animal has a good shot at survival. Even if coyotes are attracted by the scent of blood, the lucky buck still has good odds of escaping.

“A three-legged deer can outrun a coyote any day of the week,” he said.

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