Rangers Investigate Death of Mule Deer with Atypical Antlers
Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3393
Grand Teton National Park rangers, with assistance from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, conducted an investigation into the recent death of a buck mule deer. The mule deer died as a result of physical injuries sometime on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 along the Gros Ventre River near the park's southern boundary. While the natural death of an animal inside of a national park can be expected, this individual deer wore an atypical set of antlers that brought particular attention and admiration from visitors and local residents alike, and therefore prompted this announcement about the circumstances of its death.
Park rangers were well aware of this unusual buck deer, and they regularly saw it on their routine patrols. On December 28, the buck appeared to be injured. Consequently for the next 10 days, rangers tracked its movements more consistently. The deer bedded down near the Gros Ventre River on Monday, January 7, and apparently died sometime the next day.
The ensuing investigation by Grand Teton National Park and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department determined that some time ago, the deer suffered a broken bone in the lower portion of its front leg. An infection developed causing further damage to the deer's hoof. This significantly compromised the health of the animal and was the essential factor in its death on Tuesday. The investigation also revealed that none of the mule deer's injuries were consistent with a gunshot wound.
Due to the unique nature of the buck's antlers, Grand Teton National Park will consider preserving its head and antlers for appropriate educational display.
photo: Park Ranger Chris Valdez, GTNP