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A tame deer named Spike, or Panther by some, continues to go up to homes and onto decks, making friends. The DNR is concerned it could become a public safety issue. (Submitted photo)

DNR concerned tame deer will be safety issue

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A yearling deer that made friends with a 9-year-old earlier this spring continues to make friends on the west side of Park Rapids.

But the Department of Natural Resources has also received complaints about the deer and officials are concerned it could be a public safety issue.

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Landon Rush, who lives on 190th Street west of Park Rapids, said he has seen the deer - which he thinks is the same animal that showed up on Eagle Pointe Drive this spring - for about the past week.

He calls the deer Spike because his antlers are growing in. Zach Severtson, the boy who had been trying to teach the deer to play ball on Eagle Pointe Drive this spring, called the deer Panther.

Spike, or Panther, continues to be friendly.

"He just walks right up to us and comes up on the deck," Rush said.

He has purchased a deer mix and has been feeding Spike. He keeps coming back for more food. Rush even plays around with the yearling.

"Yeah, he's wild, but he's tame too," Rush said.

He hunts deer and said this fall hunting will probably be more difficult now that he has befriended Spike.

Although Spike is friendly and tame now, Department of Natural Resources officials are concerned the deer could become more aggressive.

"This deer is quite tame, not afraid of people," said DNR Wildlife Supervisor Rob Naplin. "We consider that it could be a public safety issue."

The deer is so tame that it could come up and knock someone down, Naplin said.

"It's a male and has shown some indication that it will probably become more aggressive as it moves into the fall here, the breeding season," he said.

It's not too common to have deer come up on decks and get so close to people, Naplin said.

Some people have called in with complaints about the deer eating flowers and shrubs.

Naplin said the Hubbard County Sheriff's Department has been notified about the deer and that it could be a public safety situation.

Sheriff Frank Homer said dispatch had been notified of the deer. At this point, the sheriff's department will just keep an eye out for the deer to make sure it's not running out into traffic, he said.

Spike isn't in any immediate danger but that could change as hunting season approaches. For now, neighbors such as Rush will continue to feed the deer.

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