Waffles the deer relocated to state-owned land

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, December 8, 2021

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Waffles the deer, well-known around the community where he lived on Phillips Road in Huguley, has been relocated, according to his former caretaker, Beth Wilson.

“Waffles is now on 1,000 acres in Calhoun County,” she said. “It’s a state-owned property, so there’s no hunting, and he’s with other deer, and they have creeks and ponds. It’s beautiful.”

Wilson said Waffles was transferred to the new location on Saturday.

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“Waffles had still not blended into the wild,” she said. “We had hoped he would. He was still making appearances in the neighborhood. And so, with all of the publicity and the drama from mainly one or two citizens, I just felt like it was the safest choice for Waffles because the end game is for Waffles to live wild. This way, we’re not waiting for him to make that choice, blending in [with] the area wildlife.”

Wilson said Waffles is about two and a half years old.

He was recently brought back to Phillips Road after he was allegedly “deernapped” a significant distance from his home in Huguley. Last Wednesday, he was spotted in the Todd Addition area in Valley. Wilson said he spent two days in the woods when he got back but that on Saturday, he made an appearance in the neighborhood.

Wilson said that Goose, her Great Pyrenees dog, seems sad that Waffles is gone. The two were best friends, according to Wilson. She said that relocating Waffles was a group effort and that a couple of citizens were helpful. She said the game warden was also involved.

Wilson said she had been harassed about Waffles by someone on Facebook, saying he shouldn’t have a collar on him and that Wilson was treating him as a pet.

“It’s a rescue-approved breakaway collar, and it is only on him during hunting season so that if he is out in the woods, the hunters will know that this deer has been in contact with humans and is familiar with humans,” she said.

According to Wilson, the woman told her she had reported her to the game warden.

“And I’m like, ma’am?” she said. “They know Waffles is here. I’m in contact with them because when someone contacts me about wildlife that they need moved or if there’s a problem, I work with them.”

Wilson said Waffle’s collar was also meant to alert people that Waffles wasn’t rabid if he walked up to them, which he tended to do. She said it was a matter of opinion whether or not Waffles was too friendly. However, she said that rutting season, when male deer are known to become unpredictable, is a legitimate concern, and she watched Waffles for signs that he was going into rut.

“You don’t treat wildlife like a pet,” she said. “Let him live free. You don’t try to grab a wild deer. You don’t corner them or anything like that. You let them be.”

Wilson said she looked forward to Waffles going into rut so he’d pursue does and leave domestic life.

She said that while it’s illegal to keep a deer as a pet, there’s nothing illegal about a deer choosing to live on someone’s property.

Wilson said Smith Station Animal Control contacted her to see if she could take Waffles after his mother had been hit by a car. Wilson said he was discovered by a tow truck driver.

Captain Stacy Shirey of the Valley Police Department confirmed that the game warden helped relocate Waffles. He said people had called to tell the police department where Waffles was.

For questions about whether or not an animal is in need of rescue, how to capture for transport to a rehabilitator, or about wildlife rehabilitation in general, Outdoor Alabama, a website run by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, recommends calling (334) 242-1814 or emailing Marianne Hudson at ​​marianne.hudson@dcnr.alabama.gov.