A rare white stag was killed by police on Sunday evening after it spent hours running through a Merseyside town, despite animal welfare experts urging officers to let it find its way home.
Merseyside police say that they were unable to find an organisation who could help safely recover the deer from Bootle, and so were forced to euthanise it out of concerns for motorists.
The first report of the white deer – which, according to the British Deer Society are normally of the unusual fallow species – was made to police at 8.45am on Sunday morning, before it was spotted on several busy roads in Bootle town centre.
Things you don’t normally see in Bootle on a Sunday 🦌🦌 pic.twitter.com/MP5eSQklcI
— paulakp (@paulawooparr) September 26, 2021
“It must have been quite scared and I genuinely have no idea where it was from,” she said.
Police said they later secured it inside an industrial estate, where it was assessed by a vet who monitored its welfare and attempted to help the armed response officers to control it. A spokesperson for Merseyside police said they were unable to find assistance to safely recover the deer – despite making “several inquiries” – and “as the hours went by the deer became more distressed”.
The RSPCA said that it advised officers to leave the deer to make its own way home, explaining that deer sightings in urban areas are becoming increasingly common.
But the police said that there was “no option to let the deer wander as it could be a danger to motorists and members of the public in the area”, particularly as the hours of darkness approached.
“As a result a decision was made in the early evening to euthanise the deer,” Merseyside police said in a statement.
The RSPCA said that where public safety is a consideration, it is a decision for the police. One option could have been to sedate the animal, and move it to a safer place to be released, but that would have taken some caution in a public area to avoid the deer being startled and running when hit by the anaesthetic dart. “This could create a bigger public safety and animal welfare issue,” the animal welfare organisation added.
A spokesperson said: “Although deer traditionally live in forests, moors and parkland, they are becoming more common in urban environments across the UK. We do see deer in city centres – they usually live in large park areas but will follow canal paths and tramlines to make their way in and out of the cities.”
Videos and photos appeared on social media showing the white deer, going through a park and then on an industrial estate.
In 2019, a deer was spotted in Manchester city centre, running through the busy Oxford Road area and swimming in the canal. An RSPCA spokesperson at the time said it managed to get free and run away from officers.
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