Richmond residents don’t know what to do about roaming exotic deer

Fallow deer not protected in Illinois, IDNR says

Delilah the fallow deer, as seen by Megan Pierce from her Richmond home's window on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023.

Depending on who you ask, Delilah the fallow deer has been wandering around Richmond since just after Christmas or has been on the loose for four months.

Either way, Megan Pierce wants to see either an agency or the deer’s owner recapture the non-native deer and get it somewhere safe.

“There is a whole slew of effects if she does stay out there. What are the long-term effects?” Pierce asked.

Fallow deer are not native to North America. The species is more closely related to elk or reindeer, originate in southern Europe and cannot breed with white-tailed deer. Adult females like Delilah are only about 3 to 3 1/2 feet tall and weigh about 110 pounds.

They are often farmed for their meat, according to the Illinois Deer Farmers Association website.

One Facebook poster offered a first name and phone number for Delilah’s owner. When contacted by a reporter, he declined to comment.

Pierce lives in the neighborhood that Delilah seems to have called home – west of Route 12 and north of Route 173. Residents in the area began posting photos on Facebook of the small deer in early January.

Concerned for the deer’s health and safety and possible environmental effects of having a non-native deer on the loose, Pierce planned an online event for Sunday in an attempt to corral the deer.

She scrapped those plans because of the negative comments posted on a Richmond Facebook page.

“It turned into a liability thing. At the end of the day, am I culpable if something happened” to the volunteers or Delilah? Pierce asked.

Animal experts she talked to suggested rounding up Delilah. She has reached out the the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Richmond Police Department, McHenry County Animal Control, an exotic animal veterinarian and a wildlife rescue organization, among others.

None of the organizations she contacted said they could help corral the deer, Pierce said. One wildlife rescue told her if she captured Delilah they would take it, but could not help in the rescue operations.

The question may be who has jurisdiction on a loose deer, Richmond Village President Toni Wardanian said.

It is her understanding that the owner lives outside Hebron.

The Richmond Police Department does not have an animal control officer and the village code only mentions loose dogs.

“Deer are not dogs,” Wardanian said.

There is an Illinois law regarding livestock running at large. It mentions bison, cattle, swine, sheep, goats, equidae (horses), camelids (llamas), ratites (emu) and fowl.

Neither are fallow deer regulated by IDNR, agency spokeswoman Jayette Bolinski said. “However, it is illegal to release them into the wild.”

Getting Delilah out of the wild may come down to personal responsibility of the original owner, Wardanian said.

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