British Columbia

Bottle-fed fawn bucks up wildfire crews on ferry ride

Named ‘Elliot’ by a local family, the deer is known in the community for hanging out with humans

August 31, 2018

The young buck nuzzles up with a group of firefighters taking the ferry across Francois Lake from Southside, where wildfires are still burning. (Jan Giesbrecht)
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A popular young deer known for hanging out with humans has followed evacuees escaping B.C.'s wildfires by hitching a ferry ride across Francois Lake.

Earlier this week, the buck was spotted nuzzling up to a group of firefighters on the ferry from the area known as Southside, as people forced from their homes made their way toward Burns Lake — and it's not the first time the fawn has been a passenger.

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"This deer is like a dog — it comes up to you and I can pat it on the back, it licks my hand. It's just the friendliest deer going," said Grant Borden, a Southside resident who comes across the deer about once a week.  

Named "Elliot" by Borden and his family, the young buck was orphaned and raised by hand by someone in the neighbourhood, he said.

"For him to be so friendly, it's kind of bizarre and a little unnerving at first," Borden said.

"He was bottle fed so he does know humans — [when] he's nuzzling up to us like a dog would, he's doing it to be affectionate, I guess."

However, Angelika Langen from the Smithers Wildlife Shelter recommended not feeding wildlife.

Mother deer will often leave their fawns alone for extended lengths of time so it's best not to interfere and habituate them to humans, she said.

The deer was hanging out with campers earlier in the summer. 'This has got to be the most popular deer around,' says Southside resident Grant Borden. (Deb McPhee/Facebook)

Leaving 'Elliot' behind

Borden last saw Elliot when he was packing up his things to leave after the area was put under an evacuation order.

"He was in the garage with me and we were trying to get him out," Borden said.

"He's turning around looking at me, as if to say, 'Well, you're not leaving without me are you?'"

Kevin Nixon, a B.C. Conservation Officer Service, said the deer has been spotted riding the ferry back and forth since the initial ride.

"I don't know if it's a daily occurrence that this thing goes for a boat ride or what it is," he said.

He said the deer isn't in danger on either side of the lake from the fires.

"The wildfires, if you go across on the Southside right now, you don't encounter any signs of fire for about 15 or 20 kilometres up the road."

He reminded the public that the deer is still a wild animal, despite being tame, and said to give it space.

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The deer was spotted nuzzling up to a group of firefighters on the ferry across Francois Lake from the Southside, away from the fires, towards Burns Lake earlier this week- and this is not the first time he's followed people or tried to get on the ferry.  11:40

With files from Daybreak North and Andrew Kurjata 

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