Deer Endures Ordeal During Removal Of Plastic Container Stuck On Its Head

A deer with a plastic container over its head preventing it from eating or drinking was treated by Dr. Kathleen Ramsay, assisted by Ofc. Ariel Perraglio of New Mexico Department of Game & Fish and neighborhood volunteers Saturday. Photo by Amanda Smith

Taking care of the deer. Photo by Amanda Smith

The deer is carried to a safe location. Photo by Amanda Smith

Dr. Kathleen Ramsay is assisted by volunteers with an IV to rehydrate the deer. Photo by Amanda Smith

Dr. Kathleen Ramsay, third from left, and Department of Game & Fish Ofc. Ariel Perraglio pose with a group of volunteers who helped take care of a deer that had a plastic container stuck on its head. Photo by Amanda Smith


As you may have seen, a concerned neighbor in the vicinity of Yucca Street and 45th Street posted on the Shop Local social media page asking people to keep any eye out for a young deer whose head was stuck in a plastic container and could not eat or drink.

One neighbor I spoke to said he believed the deer had been in this situation for a number of days already. Several neighbors in the area tracked this yearling and its family for over 4 hours Saturday, hiking from their neighborhood, up LA Mountain, over to the top of Mitchell Trail, and then back to the neighborhood where it seems to hang out.

By about 2 p.m. Dr. Kathleen Ramsay of Cottonwood Rehab in Espanola, Conservation Officer Ariel Perraglio of the Department of Game and Fish, and several volunteers were able to respond to tranquilize the deer, remove the bucket, treat the animal for dehydration, and then place him in a safe location where he will hopefully recover. In addition to being a cruel and life-threatening situation for the buck, this event also required many hours of service from the professionals, volunteers, and neighbors who responded.

There are reports that neighbors are feeding deer out of big buckets. The container in question could just have been trash but feeding deer draws them in and habituates them to sticking their heads in things looking for food.

Dr. Ramsay and Officer Perraglio would like to remind the community that this circumstance could have been prevented. Feeding wildlife habituates them to browsing in non-natural habitats and to looking for food in containers that could be dangerous like this. Additionally, it attracts game animals away from their natural habitat and into urban areas where they can become a nuisance and serve as an attractant to predators such as bears and mountain lions, which then present a hazard to us. Causing a nuisance game animal problem by feeding them or otherwise attracting them is a misdemeanor under New Mexico Administrative Code R. §

“Causing a nuisance game animal problem: It shall be unlawful for any person, by their action or lack of action, whether intentionally or through negligence, to cause a nuisance game animal or depredation problem by baiting, feeding, or otherwise enticing game animals to an area, and such persons, if convicted, may be punished under 17-2-10 NMSA 1978. The department shall not be required to offer or provide interventions to depredation complaints caused by landowner, lessee, or employee of either violating this prohibition.”

Persons found to be feeding wild animals are creating a hazardous situation for those animals as well as for their neighbors, and will be cited. I hope that this information can be communicated to the Los Alamos community so that prevent situations like this can be prevented in the future.

Check out this Zoom presentation – go to 44:30 and a recent article by Los Alamos County Council Vice Chair James Robinson: