STROUDSBURG, Pa. — Whereas many households take pleasure in cats and canine, a household in northeastern Pennsylvania found deer may be nice pets, too.
Ralph Petricone and Renee Winslow have six deer roaming of their yard and typically of their dwelling.
Winslow first grew to become fascinated about elevating the animals when a younger deer was made obtainable about 11 years in the past via a petting zoo. “She fell in love with it and needed to have it,” Petricone stated.
After receiving the correct allowing via Pennsylvania Division of Agriculture, the white-tailed deer with white markings often known as a piebald quickly moved into their dwelling.
The Pennsylvania Division of Agriculture oversees privately owned deer farms known as Cervidae Livestock Operations. They’re an agricultural operation wherein privately owned members of the Household Cervidae (deer) are held in captivity.
The deer, which they named “Pie,” for its distinctive coloring, spent a variety of time of their dwelling however now roams a 3-acre, fenced-in space.
A yr later, Petricone stated his spouse realized they loved having deer as pets a lot that they determined to have extra. They discovered somebody with a younger buck, and it didn’t take lengthy earlier than the deer reproduced. Now they’ve six whitetails, and 5 of them have the white piebald genetic traits.
Albino deer are all white and lack pigmentation of their hooves and eyes. The piebald genetic abnormality can create defects — three of this household’s deer turning into deaf.
He stated the deaf deer are calm and mild as they aren’t as simply spooked as regular deer which have delicate listening to.
“They’re all very light,” Petricone stated. “You’ll be able to pet each certainly one of them; they’ll come up. The grandkids love them. They will put their arms round their heads.
“… They really make nice pets however provided that you place the time in and bottle elevate them and lift them up from fawns your self.”
The deer are playful within the yard and he stated it’s simple to create a bond with them. He recalled when the deer used an previous tarp to play on much like a youngsters’s slip and slide. “They’re enjoyable animals,” he stated.
To assist preserve the deer secure from coyotes and bear that will attempt to navigate via the fence, they’ve two herding sort canine, an Anatolian and a Kangal, that watch over the small herd.
They’ve grown connected to the deer as each has completely different markings and character. “They’re fascinating trying,” he stated concerning the piebalds however wished they didn’t have genetic defects. “Nature takes its personal course. … Every one will get its personal particular consideration.”
The deer have reproduced and a few offspring are piebalds. After they have too many, they can promote them to different licensed handlers. One time he traded a considerably aggressive buck to a fisherman for some seafood. “I traded him for one tuna, 20 lobsters and 30 kilos of shark meat,” Petricone stated.
Resulting from strict state laws on captive deer, they’ve a sturdy fence round 3 acres of their property to stop the deer from escaping. With issues about Persistent Losing Illness in deer, Petricone stated, if animals escaped they must be euthanized to stop a potential battle with the wild inhabitants.
Whereas the deer are distinctive pets in themselves, the household additionally has a propagation allow via the Pennsylvania Sport Fee for grey fox. They’ve two foxes, named Taz and Tildy, that typically spend time of their dwelling like extra conventional pets. One is 9 and the opposite is 8, they usually raised them from pups.
For these fascinated by proudly owning a deer, Petricone stated to do your analysis and go to a spot that’s licensed to have deer. He stated it may be costly buying the feed and paying for vet payments for deer.
“They’re consuming always,” he stated.
“Take into consideration how a lot work and time you’ll be able to commit to it,” Petricone stated concerning the endless dedication it takes to care for giant animals. “It’s received to be one thing you really need. … Don’t get it until you really need it unhealthy.”
He additionally suggests beginning with a doe. The bucks grow to be aggressive within the early fall when the mating season approaches.
Brian Whipkey is the outside columnist for USA TODAY Community websites in Pennsylvania. Observe him on Twitter: @whipkeyoutdoors.