Saturday, October 08, 2005


A scar-faced rogue deer is attacking dogs and unnerving some residents in this woodsy town.

He's Bambi gone ballistic.

The black-tailed buck deer gored a dog to death in its yard a short distance from its owner, and then wounded a second dog in another yard, according to neighbors, police, and a Fish and Game warden.

In the next two days, the deer faced off with two other dogs behind fences at different homes. The dogs were hurt, but the deer rammed one fence, neighbors and a warden said.

Authorities have called in a professional hunter to bag the buck.

Orinda police are keeping a watch for the deer, and have a photo to identify it.

Neighbors in the Lost Valley Drive neighborhood have posted warning signs, alerting people to watch out for the unusually aggressive animal with big antlers

"We're being held hostage by a rogue deer," said Lou Pimentel, who has stopped walking his dog since the attacks.

"I like deer. It's peaceful to know you live where deer can roam. But it's very different when you worry about your dog being killed."

The deer's behavior is unusual, wildlife experts said.

Male deer can get testy this time of year, during the rutting season when they compete for dominance.

"I've heard of deer attacking dogs, but I've not heard of a case where a deer was so aggressive repeatedly," said John Krause, an associate state wildlife biologist.

He speculated the deer may have become tame because it was raised or fed by a human. "People should not feed wildlife or they can lose their fear of people."

He also speculated the deer might be sick, or extremely stressed by the rutting season.

What unnerves residents the most is they are used to living with deer entering their properties, but not challenging them.

On the afternoon of Oct. 11, the deer slipped quietly into Dee Pearce's yard and attacked her 10-year dog Kermit, a Afghan-golden retriever mix with a sweet temperament who didn't even have a bark.

Pearce didn't see the deer until she heard a scuffle. She looked up to see her dog wounded on the lawn.

The buck ran away.

Kermit died during the trip to the hospital.

Not long after at another house, a black Labrador mix named Mocha was gored in its yard. It survived.

A day or two later, Pimentel saw a male deer walk into his yard and right up to the fenced enclosure for Willie, his Jack Russell terrier.

"Deer usually run when they see humans. This deer looked right at me," said Pimentel. "I've never seen a buck act so aggressive."

He snapped a photograph, the same image now plastered on neighborhood posters.

A deer charged another neighbor's dog, and rammed into the fence that protected the pooch.

Nicole Kozicki, a state Fish and Game warden, said because of the threat to dogs, the department issued a depredation permit for the hunter to kill the deer.

The hunter from the San Joaquin Valley, however, hasn't found the deer on his trips to Orinda.

Pimentel said the deer has returned to his property, but has run off before police arrived.

A city ordinance bars private citizens from shooting guns within the city limits, but makes an exception in cases where a person is acting to protect livestock or animals from danger.

Orinda Police Chief Larry Gregg said if his officers find the animal, they have authority to decide whether to kill it as a public safety risk.

"I can't say for sure if it's a threat to people because it appears to have gone only after dogs," the chief said. "It's just a strange case. Never seen anything like it.