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Oregon Investigates Blow-Gun Dart Deaths, Injuries of Mule Deer

Fawn among two animals that died from 'inhumane attacks,' three were injured and have recovered.

Oregon Investigates Blow-Gun Dart Deaths, Injuries of Mule Deer

Blow-gun dart removed from doe illegally shot  in Burns, Ore., on Feb. 13. This doe had to be euthanized. The Oregon Hunters Association is offering a $1,000 reward in the case of several blow-gun-dart shootings of mule deer this winter. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife photo)

A reward has been offered in an investigation into the injuring and killing of mule deer in Oregon with blow-gun darts.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said two mule deer have died and three more were injured within the Burns city limits over the past four months. The Oregon Hunters Association is offering a $1,000 reward in the case.

The deer that died from their injuries likely endured long painful deaths. Hunting deer with blow guns is illegal in Oregon, though such weapons are effective at killing small game. The darts can cause damage of a larger animal that can be fatal.

"Either the wound will lead to an infection, or if the stomach or intestines are punctured, the deer will die, but it will take a while, and it will be painful," said ODFW biologist Rod Klus, who assisted in saving the three wounded deer. "It takes a deer anywhere from days to weeks to die from infection."

Ken Hand, regional director for the Mule Deer Foundation, said city-dwelling deer are easy targets for poachers.

"Using a dart is an inhumane way to kill a deer. It would take a while for them to die,” he said. “Poaching is believed to be one of the factors behind declines in mule deer across the state. Aside from being cruel, this is illegal, and it is wanton waste of the animals."

"It is no secret that mule deer populations continue to be on a decline in Oregon,” said Oregon Hunters Association Chair Fred Walasavage. "Granted, there are many factors such as habitat loss, road kills, and predation, but when it comes to intentionally poaching wildlife, that's where OHA members draw the line."

According to a news release, the most recent report in the case came on Feb. 13, when Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Troopers responded to a report of an injured mule deer doe in Burns that had a blow-gun dart in her side. The doe had to be euthanized.

On Nov. 6, 2020, troopers found the carcass of a mule deer fawn in the same area with a similar dart in its neck.

Between November and February, biologists and troopers found three additional mule deer in the area with blow-gun darts lodged in their bodies. In all three cases, the animals were sedated to have the darts surgically removed and then released. They are expected to survive.

"Poaching steals natural resources from all Oregonians," ODFW Stop Poaching campaign coordinator Yvonne Shaw said. "In this case, poaching takes a cruel turn. Thankfully, residents in Burns are quick to alert OSP Troopers by calling the TIP Line. Let’s hope they find whoever is doing this."

The Oregon Hunters Association offers rewards for calls to the Turn In Poachers (TIP) Line that lead to a citation. Because of the nature of this crime, OHA considers the doe that was euthanized to be in the same category as the fawn that was killed outright. In this case, the payout now stands at $500 for each animal, totaling $1,000. Anyone wishing to contribute to the reward fund may do so by contacting their county OHA chapter. The TIP Line phone number is *OSP (677) or 800-452-7888. Or report by email:

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