A deer has been spotted in western Quebec with a bucket stuck on its head, but despite days of effort, government officials and the woman who feeds it have not been able to catch the animal to save it.

Last Sunday, Diane Leonardo watched deer gather at a feeder in the backyard of her home in Lac Simon, about an hour northeast of Gatineau. Then she saw one of the animals in some discomfort, as it had a bucket stuck on its head.

“My heart fell to my feet. We have 12 deer, we have deer here all the time,” said Leonardo. “It was a shock. You know immediately that he couldn’t get it off himself.”

No one has been able to give the deer food or water for at least five days.

Officials with Quebec’s Ministry of Natural Resources tried to catch the deer with a net, but failed. They came back another day and tried to tranquilize the animal, but it ran off.

Leonardo said workers gave up after two failed attempts to corner the animal on Thursday but she said they will be back at it on Friday.

"They are my heroes," she told CBC in an email.

Deer returns each morning

The deer has returned each morning, though, and Leonardo’s husband laid out straw to lure the animal to a warm resting place. They hope officials can then catch it and take the bucket off.

The bucket is believed to have a metal handle that is stuck behind the deer’s ears. Leonardo said she feels bad and will cut handles off her buckets from now on.

For now, she’s still focused on saving the deer.

“It’s very cold and [deer] need calories. They need calories and he’s not been eating anything,” she said.

Officials continued their rescue efforts Thursday morning, but the deer did not return to the couple's backyard Wednesday night. This was the first night the deer did not return since it was seen with a bucket on its head.

Two teams of government workers remain in Lac Simon ready to tranquillize the deer if it shows up, and neighbours are ready to call if they see the animal.

Officers do admit if they can’t catch the animal, they might kill the deer out of compassion.