Medicine Hat resident Denis Bagarić was driving to work when he spotted an injured deer walking across the road and towards some homes. "The animal went and sheltered itself in a corner, right beside a persons door."
According to police, MHPS officers responded to the 500 block of 3rd Street Northwest after Alberta Fish and Wildlife was notified of an injured deer in the area but its members were unable to attend the scene. Police located a severely harmed deer suffering from injuries that were suspected to be the result of an encounter with a vehicle. The deer had two fractured legs and a severed leg.
MHPS officials say the officers determined the animal was mortally wounded and a decision was made to kill the deer. Given the fact the animal was located near several homes, police elected to kill the animal with a knife instead of a firearm.
Bagarić says he saw officers approach the animal and he questioned their plans. "The cop was putting on his gloves and I said Youre not going to put the animal down, are you?," Bagarić told CTV Calgary. "He said well, the animal is missing its legs so were going to put it down."
Police attempted to notify residents in the immediate vicinity of what was occurring and a barrier was put in place to shield citizens from witnessing the death
"I thought he was going to pick up the deer and take it to a field or let a vet deal with him, or some sh**, but to whip out a knife and start stabbing it? I think thats disgusting."
Medicine Hat Police Service is defending two officers who killed a severely injured deer with a knife to end its suffering.
Bagarić recorded the officers killing the deer and shared the video on social media. The post garnered stark criticism of the actions of police.
"Theres so many different ways to do it," said Bagarić. "To slit its throat in between two houses in a residential area?"
"The MHPS is aware of a video that is circulating on social media of this incident and understand that it is disturbing. The MHPS supports the actions of the involved officers, who took the matter very seriously and attempted to mitigate the trauma to the injured deer and the public as much as possible."
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, the provincial body that oversees the conduct of police services, says it has not been directed to investigate this incident with the Medicine Hat Police Service.
Sue Hughson, ASIRTs executive director, told CTV News in an email that the situation reflected a similar incident in Lethbridge that took place earlier this year.
"Past a certain point, there are generally only a series of very bad options to euthanize an injured animal and none of them are easy or pleasant, without the assistance of a veterinary professional or an easily-accessed [Fish and Wildlife] officer."
The agency was called to investigate in that instance and, ultimately, there were no charges laid against the officer involved.
When police arrived, they found a young deer with extensive injuries, believed to be the result of a vehicle collision, the release states.
An injured fawn was killed by the Medicine Hat Police Service on Friday, September 13 (image: Denis Bagarić)
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A screen grab from a video shared on Denis Bagarić shows the area Medicine Hat police officers killed a mortally wounded deer on Sept. 13, 2019.
The Medicine Hat Police Service is standing by two of its officers after they had to slit the throat of a fawn seriously wounded Friday morning.
Police were called by Alberta Fish and Wildlife officers just before 10 a.m. after being notified about the fawn — which had one leg severed and another two broken — that was in the 500 block of 3rd St. N.W.
Determining the deer to be mortally wounded, officers “concluded that the safest way to end the animal’s suffering would be to use a knife,” the service said, adding that a firearm wasn’t an option due to the proximity to houses.
“He slit the deer’s throat and stabbed it a few times,” said Bagarić, who filmed the video and shared it on his Facebook page, which gained thousands of views by Friday afternoon. “Now, I get it — (the deer) obviously wasn’t going to make it, but I think there could’ve been a better way; I think there could be better protocol.”
Bagarić said he hopes that veterinarians, or someone else, could come in and euthanize wounded wildlife in the future.
“There’s just got to be a better way,” he said. “There could’ve been so many better ways of doing that like taking it to a field, or bringing a vet down.
“I’m sure if I was younger and I saw that, I wouldn’t be sleeping tonight. I know 10-plus people would’ve seen it.”
“The MHPS supports the actions of the involved officers, who took the matter very seriously and attempted to mitigate the trauma to the injured deer and the public as much as possible,” the service said, adding it was aware of the video circulating on social media.
“Prior to proceeding, the officers attempted to contact surrounding residents to advise them of the occurrence, and placed a barrier to obscure the view from the public, as they understood it would be traumatic to any witnesses.”
After the deer was confirmed dead, Medicine Hat police said, officers removed the animal’s remains and cleaned the area before once again reaching out to residents.
The incident comes three months after the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team cleared a Lethbridge police officer who was seen running over a deer with their truck in January 2019 in an attempt to humanely euthanize the animal.
ASIRT executive director Susan Hughson referred to a 15-minute video that went viral after the incident.
“The reality is, if you’re euthanizing an injured animal, there’s not really a good or pretty way of doing it, other than by sedation,” Hughson said in June about the Lethbridge case. “The firearm was not the option in this case. Having got an opinion from a firearms expert, at the end of the day, (when) the ricochet is a reasonable possibility, it is no longer an option. Period. Full stop.”
Hughson made recommendations that it was time for other options to be considered for public euthanasia of wildlife.
“If a vet could euthanize the animal using a drug or tranquilizer of some sort, it would’ve been better than a police cruiser, tire iron or tactical knife,” she said. “While the vehicle didn’t work out particularly well, quite frankly, I think it would’ve been worse to use a baton, tire iron or a knife.”