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Deer attacks runner at the Nature Center

Visitors to the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center should be on the lookout for an aggressive and potentially sick male white-tailed deer following an attack on a visitor Wednesday.

The visitor was running the trails at the Nature Center and encountered a young buck that was acting aggressively. After initially scaring it away, the runner was rammed and then pinned under the deer. 

The runner was able to fight the deer off, which then ran away. The runner sustained minor bruising from the incident and reported it to Nature Center staff.

After discussing the incident with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists, Nature Center staff located the deer and contacted the Austin Police Department to destroy it. 

The buck evaded efforts and Nature Center staff are currently working with the Austin Police Department to locate the deer and put it down. 

“We were tracking it yesterday with the police,” said Director/Naturalist Luke Reese. “They were unable to take a shot and we lost it.”

It is unknown at this time if the deer is still on the Nature Center property though staff continue to actively look for the deer.

According to Reese, the DNR suspects a few different reasons why the deer may have attacked including Chronic Wasting Disease, an infection in the teeth that can spread to the brain and even rabies, though that last is incredibly rare.

Ironically, there is only one official case of rabies in a deer in the state of Minnesota — in Mower County.

“They said it’s very unusual,” Reese said. “If we are able to locate it and kill it, they want it’s remains for testing.”

Jay C. Hormel Nature Center visitors should never approach wildlife and in this circumstance should watch for white-tailed deer and keep their distance. If visitors encounter a deer behaving aggressively or strangely, they should immediately contact the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center at 1-507-437-7519 or the Mower County Law Enforcement Center after 5 p.m. at 1-507-437-9400.