When a mule deer falls into a canal, he’s usually done for. But this past weekend, one Arizona ungulate survived a long swim, thanks to symbiosis with another local species—the cowboy.
The Arizona Game and Fish department received a tip that a deer was paddling furiously up and down a canal near Lake Pleasant. The deer, like many before him, had approached the canal for an easy drink and slipped in. When authorities got to the scene, a couple of cowboys were sauntering along the canal, assessing the situation, and the two forms of law enforcement put their heads together. After the officers herded the deer toward a bridge using a rope and buoy, one of the cowboys was able to calmly lasso the deer’s antlers and pull him to shore.
The deer was “panicked and very cold,” said Game and Fish Officer Reuben Gonzales told AZ Central. ”We kept talking to him and saying ‘You got this.’” The cowboys and officers trucked the wet and disoriented animal to a nearby park, where he gradually regained his footing and scampered off.
Thirsty deer often get into trouble in the West, and thousands have drowned in the many miles of concrete-lined canals that web the region. Ramps, fences, and other blockade and escape structures have met with little success. Maybe it’s time to instate a cowboy patrol.
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