EVERETT — When a big buck broke its leg along I-5 through Everett on Tuesday morning, state Fish and Wildlife officials had no choice but to kill the animal.
“We had to put the deer down,” Capt. Bill Hebner said.
The deer was found along the east side of the freeway just north of the 41st Street interchange.
Deer and elk are struck by vehicles daily throughout Western Washington, but it’s unusual for animals to be found so near downtown Everett.
The explanation may be that during the fall, male deer are known to roam while looking for a mate, he said.
State Department of Transportation workers called wildlife officers just before 9 a.m. after discovering the deer lying on his side. They believe the animal likely was injured in an accident with a vehicle.
A fence prevented the buck from running away, leaving the busy freeway the only other place for the animal to run.
“It would have been a terrible disaster,” Hebner said. The big animal could have caused a serious injury accident.
Washington State Patrol troopers shut down the northbound lanes of I-5 for a few minutes while the wildlife officers shot the deer.
A group of people watched from outside the Everett Gospel Mission, including Beverly Bowers and her friend Kathleen Conway, who were waiting in line to shop at the thrift store.
At first, Bowers believed the officials were tranquilizing the deer. When she learned instead that the deer was killed, she started to cry and became upset.
Officials explained to her that the animal was badly hurt and couldn’t be saved.
“I’m glad they put it out of its misery,” she said.
It can take up to five minutes for a tranquilizer to immobilize a deer, Hebner said. That wouldn’t have been fast enough to ensure the animal didn’t try to get away and wind up getting struck by a vehicle driving highway speeds.
If officials determine the remains are suitable for human consumption, they’ll be donated to the Stillaguamish tribes, Hebner said. Otherwise, the carcass will be donated to wildlife game preserves to be fed to animals.
“We don’t waste the meat,” Hebner said.
Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or email@example.com.