Pet deer kills man, injures wife in attack north of Melbourne

A sambar deer at a national park in India. There is a significant population of the sambar deer species in north-east Victoria in Australia.
A sambar deer at a national park in India. There is a significant population of the sambar deer species in north-east Victoria in Australia.PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - A pet deer killed a man and badly injured his wife in Australia, police said on Wednesday (April 17), the first known attack in years.

The attack occurred during mating season when the animals are bad tempered.

The animal, a cross between an elk and a deer, attacked shortly after the man entered the enclosure on his property near the town of Wangaratta, 200km north-east of Melbourne in Victoria.

The Sydney Morning Herald named the couple as Paul and Mandi McDonald, aged 46 and 45 respectively.

The deer badly injured the woman when she came to her husband's aid, police said.

"Unfortunately, the injuries to the male were fatal and the injuries to the female were life-threatening," Acting Senior Sergeant Paul Pursell told reporters.

Police shot the deer when they arrived.

The SMH said Mrs McDonald and her son Ethan, 17, heard a commotion and went outside.

Senior Sgt Pursell said the son went to seek help, during which time Mrs McDonald entered the enclosure and was also attacked.

Ambulance Victoria said Mrs McDonald was treated for upper body and leg injuries, and flown to The Alfred hospital in Melbourne with life-threatening injuries.

Deer were introduced to Australia in the 19th century and are regarded as a pest, with up to one million wild deer in Victoria state, according to government estimates.

They are most aggressive during the annual mating or rutting season in autumn.

"It's a very, very short sharp season where they get aggressive and fight with each other," said Mr David Voss from Australian Deer Association, a hunters' lobby group.

Police did not give details of the attack. Mr Voss said deer usually run away when humans approach, but this deer "had nowhere to run so he just attacked instead".

In the nine years to 2017, Australia has not logged any deaths directly caused by deer, although 77 deaths were linked to cows and horses, the Australian Broadcasting Corp reported, citing the national statistics agency.