Mystery Deer Captured In Indiana

Posted by: Loren Coleman on June 29th, 2008



Brian Walters, a South Bend Animal Control officer, checks on a deer that was captured downtown after a lengthy chase. Tribune Photos by Gene Kaiser.

Police and animal control officers were on an animal chase in downtown South Bend, Indiana, on June 26, 2008. A wild mystery deer, later identified only as a “male” when captured, was seen running through the streets.

Reporter David Stephens of the South Bend Tribune recorded the course of the chase:

Where the deer came from, how he got downtown and where he was going Thursday afternoon were not known….

Already he had been spotted near Century Center. He had paused, until pursued by officers, near the county courthouse.

He ran by the WSBT studios, where he was spotted by office staff, and soon a group of three women was in hot pursuit.

Later, as he bolted away from Animal Control officers and toward [a] group of onlookers, one of the women would curse and scurry for safety.

By the time he reached the 300 block of Jefferson Street about 1:15 p.m., the deer had gathered a following.

South Bend police dispatchers broadcast his every move. Animal Control vehicles and squad cars scurried to set up a perimeter.

The deer — officers weren’t sure if it was a wild white-tailed deer or a domesticated deer that had escaped from a farm — headed west along Western Avenue.

Officers stopped the deer again, this time in front of the Rabbi Albert Shulman apartment building. Police worried that it would run back across the busy road, but again it escaped.

“He’s headed eastbound,” came the call across the police scanner. “Toward the Cove.”

Near the baseball stadium, incoming Animal Control officers were able to box in and confine the animal.

A well-placed tranquilizer shot and the deer’s downtown adventure was over, 30 minutes after it began.

Animal Control officers took the deer to their offices on Olive Street, where they set it in the outside fenced-in patio to sleep off the tranquilizer’s effects.

Animal Control investigator Bob Baker said the deer was uninjured and doing fine at the shelter, but said he did not know the long-term plan for the deer.

“Right now, he’s just sleeping,” Baker said.

The deer was taken to a veterinary clinic for a checkup and Animal Control officials said the Indiana Department of Natural Resources most likely would take possession of the animal.

The deer was not available for comment.

David Stephens’ full accounts were carried in twice, here and here.

While it lasts, some raw video footage of the chase from WSBT-TV can be seen here. (If it is uploaded to YouTube, someone please let me know.)

What kind of deer is it?


At first, I thought it might be a muntjac, but the head coloring and legs seem wrong.

An anonymous Cryptomundo correspondent, who first alerted me to this story, suggested it might be the red brocket or Peruvian red deer (Mazama americana), a species of brocket deer from South America and from Costa Rica and Panama in Central America. That person might be right.

Is there a wild game farm in Indiana missing one of its non-native inhabitants? My trusty Exotic Animal Field Guide doesn’t even list this species as a frequent inhabitant of ranches and game farms in America.

Perhaps there will be a followup to this story, but if it is like most captured exotic animal news items, it will merely disappear into a file cabinet, unless we keep asking.

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Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

11 Responses to “Mystery Deer Captured In Indiana”

  1. CamperGuy responds:

    An observation:

    A purse snatcher would not have received this much attention.

  2. shumway10973 responds:

    I don’t think most people would have even given it the time of day. I would be one of the few to notice it didn’t look much like the black tail or mule deer we get thru here. Okay, animal farm/ranch or maybe the zoo lost it. Kinda hard to imagine a private party trying to keep it confined. Although, I would love to raise deer, elk, moose and just about any other antelope that’s a little rare these days (and I don’t mean on a plate).

  3. Amdusias responds:

    There are a lot of these game collections in Indiana, or at least there were when I was a kid. We used to go to one in Maxwell Indiana, where the owner had a gravel road down the middle, and you could see his collection of exotics, well some of them. To get to the inner sanctum you had to pay for a tour. I went deeper in with a youth group once. Usually you would go see the little deer, ostritches, camels, llamas, and what have you from that gravel road, offer some bread, and get bitten. Glory days.

  4. bozakgrundle responds:

    It’s clearly a Chupacabras with mange.

  5. Point Radix responds:

    Fortunately, it didn’t turn on the police officers when cornered. Otherwise, it might have ended up like the “Chicago Cougar”.

  6. girlygirl responds:

    This ‘mystery deer’ is mysterious? it looks like those one deers with tusks, but if its boy, then i have no clue what it is, considering it obviously doesn’t have tusks. Baby? or big?

  7. cryptidsrus responds:

    An incompetent zoo and zookeeper, most likely…

    Agree one has to keep the spotlight on this.

    Interesting story.

  8. Medieval responds:

    Looks like it may be a yearling male Japanese Sika Deer. They are wild here in Maryland (Eastern Shore)

  9. Matt_J responds:

    Recently, there was a hunting preserve shut down in Logansport, which is about an hour almost due south of South Bend. Could be that the deer belonged there and when the state decided they couldn’t keep operations going, the deer were simply let loose, and this one happened to wander north.

    Deer in South Bend aren’t exactly stunning news. I almost hit three or four while driving on Douglas when leaving campus to head home after a day in the lab, and that’s maybe a mile or two from where the events described here took place.

  10. crgintx responds:

    Some fool probably captured it as a fawn in the wild and tried to raise it as a pet. There’s few animals as aggressive as wild male ungulates in rut. Suburban whitetails of crash though mirrored patio doors with astonishing regularity think there’s another buck in it’s territory. Yearling bucks like this one are just plain impish into all the things that they will do. Combine that with no older males to curb their aggressiveness and the Bambii lover is in for a very rude awakening. So they just let the buck go where ever they can and hope it doesn’t follow them back home.

  11. Richard888 responds:

    Oh, yes. That deer does look strange from close-up. Hey, Happy July Fourth to all Americans! From Canada.

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