An ongoing investigation in Dalton Gardens, Idaho may resemble more of a murder mystery story than a study of wildlife mortality. According to The Coeur d’ Alene Press, biologists from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game are puzzled as to why young does are dropping dead all around town.
“We don’t know what’s going on right now, but when we have a concentration of deaths like this, we certainly want to try to find out what’s going on,” Wayne Wakkinen, the Panhandle Regional Wildlife Manager, told KHQ.
At least four female deer have died within the past several days, mysteriously dropping dead in residents’ lawns. Local officials say that one of the does was seen foaming at the mouth shortly before she died. On Sunday, Margaret Gibson came home from church to find one of the animals struggling to traverse her property before ending up on her porch. An avid hunter, Gibson told KXLY that the behavior of the doe was abnormal and that it “was awful to watch.” A deputy from the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office arrived at the scene and euthanized the animal.
“When he approached it, it struggled to stand up, and then it began to walk diagonally,” Lt. Stu Miller told the Alene Press. “The deer then ran into several lawn decorations and finally lay down on the southeast corner of the yard.”
Officials are not sure whether the cause of death is disease, health conditions, or something a little more nefarious. Several residents suspect that the does are being poisoned, and biologists say they will be testing to see whether the does are being intentionally killed. Illegally poisoning wildlife can carry strict fines and penalties, including up to one year in prison and $9,000 in fines for multiple offenses.