FLORENCE – A Florence area woman was seriously injured Tuesday morning by a whitetail deer buck that was apparently being kept illegally at her residence.

A ranch hand found the woman and called for help. The woman was transported to a Missoula hospital.

Both state wildlife officials and local law enforcement didn’t have any details on the woman’s injuries.

Ravalli County Undersheriff Perry Johnson said he was told the woman was severely injured in the attack.

“From the information that we’ve received, she was found in the barn with the deer,” said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Warden Sgt. Joe Jaquith. “She went to do something in the deer’s pen and was attacked.”

The deer was estimated to be about 5 years old.

A veterinarian euthanized the deer. Its carcass was sent to the wildlife laboratory in Bozeman.

Jaquith said the initial investigation indicated the woman was keeping the deer in a pen.

FWP wardens had spoken with the landowner several years ago after receiving calls from the public about a deer being kept illegally at the site.

Jaquith said the landowners said the deer was free to come and go as it wished at that point. The wardens were shown an open gate and the deer wasn’t there.

“It didn’t appear that they were keeping a deer captive at that point,” Jaquith said about the visits that occurred about 2008.

“We didn’t receive any other calls on it and so we had no reason to think it was still going on.”

Even though it’s illegal, Jaquith said it’s not unusual for people to pick up a fawn in the spring.

“We run into that every so often,” he said. “I can’t remember the last time someone had a full-blown male deer enclosed in a pen like this.”

Deer can be dangerous, especially buck deer this time of year.

“A lot of people think they are cute, but once they go into the rut, they can be very aggressive,” Jaquith said.

Reach reporter Perry Backus at 363-3300 or pbackus@ravallirepublic.com.

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