Driving to work on Tuesday, Rick Singer came across an unusual sight.
Two bucks, antlers covered in velvet, walking side by side near the corner of Stevens Street and Main Ave.
Singer, who owns a photography studio near the intersection of Main and Washington avenues, stopped his car and scrambled to grab the closest camera at hand, his iPhone.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a deer walk on the street,” he said. “I just immediately felt really bad for them. They’re so out of place, and they were walking away from the park.”
That’s how he captured the uncommon photograph.
“It’s not completely uncommon that they find their way into downtown,” said Kile Westerman, a wildlife conflict specialist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “It happens occasionally (although) it’s kind of rare.”
Westerman said it’s possible the two bucks came up from Peaceful Valley, where there is easy access to water and green space. Or, maybe they came down from the South Hill. Either way they were looking for food. During the spring and summer males mostly travel together while females raise the fawns.
Even in a concrete haven like downtown, there are still plenty of things to “munch on” including all the ornamental plants put out by businesses, he said.
Westerman, who deals with all human-wildlife conflicts in the Spokane region, said he received a few calls about the bucks but hasn’t heard anything since yesterday, which is a good sign. In general, WDFW doesn’t tranquilize and remove deer that wander into downtown, instead hoping they find their way back to more suitable environments.
The dark side to the whole encounter is that deer and other wild animals are often attracted into urban or semi-urban environments by food put out by nature-loving humans, Westerman said.
He urged people not to feed wild animals no matter how cool the photo is.
“It’s just a recipe for an animal to get hit,” he said. “Or a person to get hurt.”