Though it might sound funny to say, Ennis has an urban deer population.
At any point in the day, pods of mule deer can be found in town lazily grazing on flowers, resting under swing sets or even sparing under apple trees.
“I get complaints all the time,” said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks game warden Ryan Gosse.
People complain about deer eating their flowers, breaking fences and tearing up their yards, he said. Sometimes he gets complaints about deer chasing dogs and vice versa. Last year he had to kill a small buck that had charged a man walking his dog.
“We’ve only had one known and reported instance of an aggressive deer,” Gosse said.
Last week, Gosse received a different kind of call. A local buck that was known to run with the herd in town was roaming the streets mortally wounded.
Apparently, someone had taken a shot at the deer with a very small caliber gun, either a .22 or possibly a pellet gun, and damaged its lower jaw and tongue.
“Its whole lower mandible and jaw and tongue were essentially made unusable,” Gosse said. “It cruised around town for a week trying to figure out what it was going to do because it couldn’t eat.”
Gosse tried to find the animal on several occasions, but it was skittish and shooting it in town proved to be a difficult task.
Early this week, the buck ended up in Jeffers in a creek trying to drink. Gosse was able to finally kill the deer and is now looking for information about who wounded the animal.
His assumption is that the buck was either shot by a poacher hoping to kill it in town with a quick headshot, or by a disgruntled landowner who was looking to get the animal off his or her property.
Discharging a firearm within the town limits is illegal, said Ennis Police Chief Scott Newell.
The town is aware of the problem presented by the deer in Ennis and is looking into options for addressing it, he said.
Harassing deer out of your yard is legal, as long as it is done in a way that doesn’t cause the animals injury, Gosse said. Shooting them with a BB gun is strictly illegal.
Anyone with information on who wounded the buck, should call 1-800-TIPMONT or contact Gosse through the Bozeman FWP office.