By Mark Heinz, outdoors reporter
A mule deer buck likely shot illegally within the city limits of Green River was discovered lying wounded in brush beneath trees on elementary school grounds by schoolchildren, a school official said.
“Usually, the deer run and try to hide when the kids are around, but this one didn’t move. It just stayed lying there,” Steven Lake, principal of Harrison Elementary School, told Cowboy State Daily.
Mule deer frequent the lower area of the school grounds where there is some cover, and the schoolchildren are used to seeing the animals, he said. But some youngsters knew something was wrong with they spotted that particular buck Sept. 15. They told school staff, who called the Game and Fish Department and local police.
“You couldn’t tell just by looking at the deer that there was anything wrong with it,” Lake said. “It just wouldn’t move. So, the students – and one student in particular – knew there must be something wrong with it.”
“(Game wardens) handled it once they got here,” he said. “It was done quickly, and the kids didn’t have to see any of that part.”
The buck was estimated to be about 2 years old, Regina Dickson told Cowboy State Daily in an email Tuesday. She’s the agency’s spokesperson for the Green River region.
After the buck was euthanized, a necropsy revealed it had been suffering from a previous gunshot wound, Game and Fish reports. The agency declined to release information about what type of firearm the animal might have been shot with, Dickson said.
“There are no rifle seasons open for deer anywhere near the city of Green River,” she said.
Game and Fish is asking for the public’s help to solve the case. Tips may be reported directly to game warden Justin Dodd, 307-870-8816, or to the Green River office at 307-875-3223. They also can be made to the stop poaching hotline at 1-877-943-3847, online at wgfd.wyo.gov or text WGFD to 847-411. Tips may be reported anonymously.