Oh, Deer: A buck goes nuts in a Town & Country strip mall

Town & Country resident Chuck Lenz has made something of a name for himself with his repeated demands that the city do something to control its deer herd, which is estimated to number 800. But few, if any, of Lenz's petitions to the city have been as extraordinary as the tale he relayed to the Board of Aldermen on November 10.

"Judging by the look on their faces, I'd say several of the aldermen were just as surprised as I was," says Lenz, who took a few minutes at the board meeting to read a police report describing a recent incident at the city's Manchester Meadows shopping center.

According to Town & Country police, at approximately 6 p.m. on November 1, a ten-point buck sauntered into the middle of the busy strip mall on Manchester Road. Walking past retailer Home Decorators Collection, the deer stopped momentarily to observe an ornamental deer statue on display in the window.

"The deer turned towards the door and tried crashing into the door as if wanting to attack the deer statue," states the police report filed the following day. "[D]ue to the impact with the door the deer broke off its entire right antler...the deer did not make it through the door but bent the door jamb."

Injured from its battle with the deer decoy, the buck stumbled its way to the adjacent Home Depot and walked through the store's automated doors. As frightened shoppers hastened their way toward the exits, the deer staggered through the lumber department and into the rear of the store.

Town & Country police arrived at 6:18 p.m. to find the deer cornered in the building's receiving area. The report states that the police radioed the Missouri Department of Conservation, but were unable to make contact with the agency's wildlife rescue team.

"As we got closer we could see that the deer seemed to be confused and in a very agitated state," wrote police officer Scott Schlager. "The deer started snorting at us, gritting its teeth and kicking its front leg on the ground. P.O. Wilson arrived on the scene as the deer started advancing towards us again in an aggressive manor [sic]. P.O. Berry fired his department issued handgun one time striking the deer in the neck."

It might have ended there had the deer not been a hefty adult male.

"The deer fell to the ground and was down for approximately 30 seconds but got back up," continued Schlager in his report. "The deer still appeared to be very agitated, disoriented, and was snorting at us."

The police fired a second round. "The deer's head jerked back, but he remained on his feet. The second bullet did not seem to phase [sic] the deer," according to the report. A third shot missed the deer entirely and tore into a box of children's workshop supplies.

The episode finally ended when police backup arrived with an M-15 assault rifle. "P.O. Berry fired one round striking the deer on the left side of its body putting the deer down. The deer expired shortly thereafter."

Says Lenz: "This is one more reason we need to do something about these deer. We're lucky no one got hurt."

Following Lenz's recitation of the deer encounter, Town & Country alderman John Hoffmann requested his own police report.

"As the alderman for that ward, you'd think I would have been notified of the police firing four rounds in a Home Depot in my district," complains Hoffmann. "With all the controversy about deer in Town & Country, this again points out that we need to take action."

Police captain Gary Hoelzer says this is the first time he's heard of a deer entering a store in the 23 years he's worked in Town & Country. More common are traffic accidents caused by deer: The city reports at least 27 deer have been struck by autos through September of this year.

"Given the situation at Home Depot, we feel we responded appropriately," says Hoelzer. "Wildlife rescue could not be reached that night, and the officers were dealing with an injured animal."

Alderman Bill Kuehling, chairman of the city's Deer Task Force, says he learned of the incident shortly before the board meeting, but was not surprised. "This is the rut season, when bucks become aggressive and overly active," notes Kuehling. "I've recently had a complaint from a bicyclist who was chased by a buck. Apparently it mistook his handlebars for horns."

This winter the city intends to hire sharpshooters to cull the male population of deer. The city also plans to sterilize several hundred doe.

"To my knowledge we've not had anyone injured from a deer attack, but it's definitely a concern," adds Kuehling. "The fear is that sometime you're going to have someone step between a doe and her fawn or between a buck and his mate, and it's not going to end well. These are rather large animals, you know."

 
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