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Plan to protect deer runs out of time

SOME Hutterites on the Windy Bay Colony came up with a plan to spirit Bambi to safety, but ran out of time to pull it off.

The adopted deer -- raised on home-baked bread and sweet tea from the time it was a fawn -- nearly made it off the colony on a farm truck.

The farmer with the truck was in place on the colony, and community members were ready to round up Bambi.

The plan had been discussed in detail as something the colony would do in the spring or summer when Bambi got too big to have around. But the appearance of Conservation officers last Saturday forced them to move the plan up.

"If we could have had 10 minutes, we could have relocated it," Hutterite colonist Ernie Maendel said.

Maendel found the newborn animal, with its umbilical cord still attached, after he accidentally ran over it with a mower. The deer was unharmed, and it quickly became the colony's pet and was allowed to roam at will.

Conservation officers made two trips to the colony Saturday morning after being called about the deer. The farmer, who lives in nearby Pilot Mound, showed up at the colony to pay a bill in between the officers' trips.

He would have taken Bambi then, but didn't because another colonist warned him the officers were headed back.

And when they did, they shot the deer under the horrified gaze of colonists.

"Just as we left, we met the Conservation officers on the road," the farmer, Steve Sawatzky, said. "I felt like pulling over and telling them, 'Don't go in there and shoot the deer like that. I'm just a farmer, but I know enough not to do that. We have problem animals, but you can't do that in front of a bunch of people.' "

Sawatzky said he'd hoped to talk the officers into tranquilizing the deer and dropping the animal off at his place. He never had the chance.

Sawatzky said the frigid weather and deep snow are making it hard for deer to forage this winter.

"They actually come in the yard and eat at the bales and the spilled grain. I have a trough at the end of the lane and they feed there," he said.

Maendel was ready to save Bambi if he could. "There were two farmers already in the yard, ready to pick it up right now and leave, but the Conservation officers pulled in and we couldn't proceed. We couldn't because they definitely would have charged us."

-- Paul

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