Environment

Doe in distress: Auburn deer can't eat because of peanut butter jar, resident says

Jar blocking its mouth, this deer was photographed in Clipper Gab around 7 a.m. Tuesday morning, incapable of eating or drinking.
Jar blocking its mouth, this deer was photographed in Clipper Gab around 7 a.m. Tuesday morning, incapable of eating or drinking. Sandra Purcell

A female deer with a jar stuck over its jaw was wandering through properties in the community of Clipper Gap north of Auburn on Tuesday morning, unable to eat or drink, said Sandy Purcell, a Clipper Gap resident.

The doe in question has visited Purcell's sloping yard near the intersection of Clipper Gap Road and Pear Valley Road many times in the past, Purcell said. She first noticed the jar affixed around her jaw at 4:35 p.m. Monday, when the doe ambled through her yard with a fawn in tow.

To attract deer, hunters will sometimes cut off the bottom of a peanut butter jar and affix it to the side of a tree trunk.

Purcell speculated that the doe ate from one such trap, dislodged the jar from the trunk and, in the process, locked the jar around her lower jaw, trapping her tongue.

At 7:15 a.m. Tuesday morning, the deer returned to Purcell's yard, still gagged by the jar. Purcell said the deer looked more agitated than usual and made mewing noises.

Purcell reached out to Gold Country Wildlife Rescue, an Auburn nonprofit, for help.

But Gold Country isn't permitted to handle adult deer, said Sallysue Stein, the organization's founder and Board Chair — only the California Department of Fish & Wildlife has that authority.

When Gold Country contacted Fish & Wildlife, a spokesperson told them the agency was too busy with bear problems in Tahoe and depredation requests to deal with the doe, Stein said.

"The deer needs to be tranquilized, and only (Fish & Wildlife) can make that happen," Stein said.

"She digs at the ground but can't consume food," Purcell said.

The deer also wasn't able to drink from Purcell's watering site, which is what Purcell said really concerned her. Purcell is worried that if the deer isn't helped immediately, she'll die from dehydration.

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