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Submitted photo A tame deer looks at its captors Tuesday after the state Conservation Police herded it into a horse trailer in the city of Mendota and released it in a remote area away from people. The deer likely had been someone’s pet and hand-fed, Conservation Police said.
MENDOTA — A tame deer wandering Mendota neighborhoods earlier this week was rounded up by conservation officers and reintroduced to the sticks and boondocks.
“This was definitely somebody’s tame deer that they had raised, I have no doubt,” said Phil Wire, state conservation officer. “If somebody does know whose deer it was, I would like them to contact us, state police or anonymously through the TIP hotline.”
The Target Illinois Poacher hotline is (877) 236-7529. Capturing and keeping wild animals, be they sick, injured, orphaned or otherwise, is against the law without a permit or license.
Conservation Police loaded the deer, a 90-pound yearling, into a horse trailer, hauled it to a remote wooded area where it would have less human contact and set it loose, Wire said. This deer was photographed earlier this week in a Mendota yard nuzzling up to a father and son, who submitted photos to the News Tribune.
It was captured two hours after the first police call midday Tuesday, Wire said.
“It was following a meter reader around for blocks and he had called police,” Wire said.
A conservation officer, not knowing the deer was in the city of Mendota, advised the meter reader to get into a vehicle and leave, Wire said. Another caller near Michigan Avenue and Burlington Street said the deer was inside a fenced backyard. One conservation officer went there while Wire traveled to Norway to get a horse trailer from Wire’s wife, who is a veterinarian. Wire went to the home with the trailer and met up with the homeowner and fellow officer.
“The deer would walk right up to the residents of the house and then felt trapped and jumped out of fence,” he said.
They coaxed it to the trailer but it ducked under the gate of the trailer and broke loose into the streets. It traveled westward toward Route 251.
“It went through a whole bunch of yards, from Michigan all the way over to 251 and as far north as Chicago Street,” Wire said.
Conservation officers called Mendota police, who responded along with city workers to control traffic, Wire said.
Officers got the deer cornered in a yard with a tall fence where no one was home. One resident who called police earlier showed up to help. After a few failed attempts to corral the deer, Wire grabbed it in a bear-hug and wrestled it into the trailer, he said. Wire considered this an easy capture.
“It would have been a completely different story if it was wild,” he said. The deer became the topic of much conversation on the Facebook page, “You might be from Mendota Il if you remember...”