Surgery goes well for injured deer

By Darren Lum

Published Jan. 30 2018

Surgery to remove an arrow from a Haliburton deer on Sunday was successful.

The procedure was performed by Dr. Sherri Cox wildlife veterinarian at the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Rosseau.

Present for the two-hour surgery was Monika Melichar of the Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary of Minden Hills who has been co-ordinating the capture of the young doe since it was first reported in late December.

Melichar made the journey to Rosseau with sanctuary volunteers Jennifer Coates a retired-veterinarian and Angie Steckle.

She said the warmer temperatures helped and with Cox set up inside the deer enclosure it “reminded me of a Nativity scene.”

Cox with assistance by her sister Dana and Howard Smith of the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary removed the arrow with a pair of sterile pliers. Once removed the arrow was discovered to have three “razor sharp blades. One of them had broken off” that had to be removed separately.

The arrow had entered just above the eye and came out just above the jaw bone. Her brow bone had sustained a fracture that will leave a lump.

Although the deer did not lose the eye it is too early to know if there was damage.

“The prognosis is good but still unclear” Melichar wrote in an email. “We will not know if the eye will be functional yet. It is heavily sunken due to the swelling so it was difficult to assess. But we unanimously agreed to give her the best possible chance and leave it be for now as it can always be removed later. We also cannot predict if her jaw muscles will work properly.”

“An arrow with those type of blades can cause terrible damage. But she is young and quite the trooper so fingers crossed for a full and quick recovery.”

The surgery also revealed the deer’s jaw bones were almost seized preventing her from opening her mouth. Melichar said the deer compensated for the protrusion by turning her head sideways to feed. During the past few weeks food had collected in her cheek and fermented emitting a foul smell. Cox removed this food during the surgery.

“We think that due to the razor sharp blades being so close to her jaw and most likely cutting her every time she chewed it was too painful to move her mouth while eating so she adapted to just swallowing” Melichar said.

Antibiotics are being used to prevent infection.

A specific timeline for the deer’s recovery is uncertain but a spring release to the Highlands is expected.

Howard Smith and Mike Cardy of the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary captured the deer on Wednesday Jan. 25 at the Haliburton residence of Dave Allen who had contacted Melichar about the deer feeding at his property. The deer was transported to the Aspen Valley sanctuary because it was closer to Cox.

Allen was thankful to Melichar and her team Smith and Cardy for their efforts.

The former hunter said deer hunting season had ended before the deer was first spotted and adds it weighed no more than 50 lbs. indicating it was a fawn born last year.

“Although I no longer hunt deer I find this most disturbing as I don’t understand why anyone would shoot such a young deer resulting in a terrible hardship for this poor little critter since the middle of December when bow season apparently ended. I look forward to seeing her back here in the spring” Allen said.