KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – Two white-tailed deer at Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium have been found dead after an apparent wild coyote attack, according to the park.
A release from Bays Mountain states that the deer, Odi and Gloria, were found deceased in their enclosure by park staff on Sunday morning.
Gloria, a doe, was born at the park in 2008 to a former Bays Moutain doe, Pumpkin. Park staff described her as shy and preferring to relax in the shade. Odi, a buck, was born in the wild but orphaned while young in 2012. Odi was raised by park staff at Bays Mountain until he could join the other deer and was a popular staple at the park, often moving logs and rocks with his antlers.
“It appears wild coyotes breached the habitat by digging underneath the fence and killing both deer sometime during the night after the park closed,” the release states.
Park staff stressed they are committed to the safety of the animals who live there, and each enclosed habitat is fortified to keep wild animals out.
“However, fences are not always impenetrable, and the park is a nature preserve with an abundance of wild animals,” the park stated in the release.
Of the wild animals living in the park, several are predators who prey on deer, park staff said Tuesday. While park staff are “deeply saddened by the loss” of Odi and Gloria, management said the coyotes who killed the pair were acting according to natural behavior.
“It is always a sad day when we lose one of our animals,” Chief Ranger Tyler Wicks said in the release. “While rare, it is not unheard of for wild animals to strike within captive animal enclosures. Our staff here takes every precaution necessary to prevent that, but you cannot tame nature.”
Bays Mountain Park is currently executing an improvement plan, which the release states includes adding three feet of concrete under the fencing of the deer habitat.
According to the park, both Odi and Gloria lived longer than the average deer would in the wild. They were described by Bays Mountain as good ambassadors for white-tailed deer who “educated countless visitors about the importance of ungulates in the environment.”