An Alberta man was moving an injured deer off a highway in B.C. when he saw a tiny hoof sticking out of its belly.
Sean Steele was on his way to visit family in Prince Rupert last Friday when he came across the dying doe near Smithers.
The farmer, who also runs a steel fabrication shop near Barrhead, northwest of Edmonton, said the car in front of him had hit the animal and he stopped to help.
He grabbed his pocket knife from the dash of his pickup truck intending to kill the deer and stop its suffering. But by the time he had dragged it to a ditch, it was dead.
He used the knife instead to free the baby.
“I just cut it open and pulled the fawn out,” said Steele.
“It was alive but it wasn’t really breathing, so I stuffed some grass up its nose, cleaned out its mouth — got all that slime out of there — and it started breathing.”
Steele said he dried off the tiny deer and checked to make sure it hadn’t also been injured in the crash.
“It was starting to jump around … it was in good shape.”
He placed the deer on the back seat of his pickup truck and delivered the fawn to a nearby sanctuary.
Other motorists who had stopped to watch were surprised by his actions, but Steele said it was just something he thought he should do.
“I hunt and fish and live on a farm, so it’s not really a big deal.”
Angelika Langen, co-founder of the Northern Lights Wildlife Society in Smithers, said the fawn has been named Friday and is doing well on a diet of specialized milk formula. It was released into an enclosure with other fawns on Monday.
“She zooms down with her bottle and has settled in and is playing with her little friend that she has there,” Langen said Wednesday. “No concerns about her at all.
“She’s not alone and that’s really important. Otherwise they get too interested in humans and we don’t want that.”
Although Friday won’t have her mother to train her to stay away from predators, Langen said the deer’s chances are good should she be returned to the wild.
“A lot of that is just instinct. We have raised and released a great number of deer and they do very well out there. We follow them for years and they have offspring, so their survival chances are very good.”
By Chris Purdy in Edmonton and Beth Leighton in Vancouver
The Canadian Press