- Our Town
Vet removes arrow from deer on Cates Hill
Last Wednesday, when veterinarian Alastair Westcott received a call reporting a deer with an arrow through one of its hind quarters, he put his appointments on hold and headed to the deer’s reported location on Cates Lane.
“Usually in a situation like this, the deer is gone by the time you get there, but this time it wasn’t. It was just standing there eating at the end of someone’s driveway,” says Dr. Westcott, who adds, such reports are not actually all that unusual.
“You obviously can’t just go and pull the arrow out of the deer’s thigh, you have to sedate it. I shot it twice with my tranquilizer gun but the effect of that takes seven to ten minutes, and you have to be careful not to spook the deer or else you’ll just loose it in the woods.”
Dr. Westcott and his assistant, Marla Brillinger, followed the deer until it lay down and fell asleep. Unfortunately, this happened not just on a hillside but in a sort of crater, and Dr. Westcott had to lift the deer up onto a flat surface nearby.
“I am guessing the deer was about 200 pounds,” says Dr. Westcott. “You need a descent estimation when you are administering drugs. In any case, it was quite emaciated as most of the deer are this time of year, and the arrow was right through it’s right thigh. I pulled the arrow out, and cleaned the wound and then gave the deer an injection with a long-acting antibiotic, as well as something to reverse the tranquilizer because the tranquilizer makes them kind of sick.”
Dr. Westcott says he and Brillinger went back to work, but checked on the deer repeatedly throughout the day. The next morning, the deer was gone.
“We can assume that the deer is okay, but we don’t know if it will survive in the long-term. It could get an infection, there is just no way of knowing.”
Dr Westcott says he does not think the arrow was shot by a licensed bow hunter, as hunting arrows usually have an extra cutting agent, or barbs, so that they stay in the animal.
“Also, most hunters with a bow know what they’re doing, and they wouldn’t leave an animal like this,” he says. “Ultimately, I just want people to know that they should call me if they see an injured wild animal, or even if they’ve done something stupid and injured an animal because of it - there’s no culpability if you call me, I just don’t want to see animals suffer. There’s no conservation officer on Bowen so, as the only vet I see it as my job to step in and help out. I believe in a lot of cases, there is a process of natural selection that we shouldn’t interfere in, but here on Bowen, that process happens in people’s front yards.”
Two days following the report of the deer shot through its hindquarter’s, the vet’s office took another call about a fawn with an injured leg.
“In that case, the deer was still moving around so I don’t think it needed help,” says Dr. Westcott. “It was with its mother and that’s the best thing. There are all kinds of deer around here with limps caused by various injuries and they go a little slower than the other ones, but it doesn’t matter because there are no predators around here. If the fawn had a compound fracture, that would be a different story, I would have to euthanize it.”
BOW HUNTING ON BOWEN:
As of 2013, the Municipality (as opposed to the RCMP) gives out licenses to use a bow. In 2013 and into 2014 (the hunting season ended on January 15th) they gave twoof these.
Hunting licences are granted by British Columbia’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.