HomeOutdoorsNewsIdaho Officials Rescue Mule Deer From Water Tank

Idaho Officials Rescue Mule Deer From Water Tank

by Craig Garrett
Mule Deer,Close-up portrait of mule white standing on field - stock photo

A mule deer buck was stuck in an abandoned water tank near Hailey and had to be freed by Idaho Fish and Game staff. Upon receiving a report in mid-November of a mule deer buck trapped after falling into an abandoned water storage tank outside Hailey, conservation officers from the Magic Valley region took action.

After falling into the deep concrete storage tank, the deer had been trapped for an unknown time. The tank used to be the water storage for Hailey’s old Hawatha Hotel. The facility was built in the late 1800s, reports the Idaho State Journal. Because the tank is around 12 feet deep, it was tough to rescue the deer. In the end, the deer was shot with a tranquilizer dart. This allowed Fish and Game staff to wrap it in a sling and hoist it out of the deep tank.

The deer was given a green ear tag before they were released, to show that they had been darted with anesthetizing drugs and for future identification. We checked their vitals and after getting a clean assessment, we reversed the anesthetic drugs. Ultimately, the deer quickly ran away from the Fish and Game team. There were no adverse effects from its fall into the tank. Footage of the rescue was shared on Idaho Fish and Game YouTube Channel.

The differences between mule and white-tailed deer

A white-tail and mule deer have several physical differences. The most notable are ear size, tail color, body size, and antler shape. Usually, a mule deer’s tail has a black tip whereas a white-tail’s does not. Additionally, their antlers naturally fork as they grow instead of branching off from one central beam as white-tails do.

Every spring, a male deer’s antlers will start to grow back almost immediately after the old ones have fallen off. The process of shedding typically happens around mid-February, with some variation depending on location. Even though they are able to run quickly, mule deer are more often seen stotting (which is also called pronking). This is when all four feet come down at the same time.

Mule deer across its range generally have similar sizes, though weight can differ significantly in a population depending on environmental conditions. An exception to this is the Sitka subspecies which is much smaller than other mule deer – averaging 120 lb for males and 79 lb for females.

The top three predators of mule deer, in addition to humans, are coyotes, wolves, and cougars. Bobcats, Canada lynx, wolverines American black bears, and grizzly bears may also feast on adults occasionally. However they typically only attack fawns or old/weakened specimens. Bears and other smaller carnivores usually eat prey opportunistically so they’re not much of a threat to strong and healthy adult most of the time.