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Wildlife officials hesitant to help deer with giant tumor

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SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. -- Residents of a East Sarasota County neighborhood want to help a deer that has large tumor on its chest, but wildlife officials advise against it.

The deer has been spotted near the Saddle Creek development off State Road 72 east of Sarasota.  That's where a herd of deer have become regulars in Art Aughey's Sarasota yard. “Typically almost every day right at seven o'clock because they know when we fill up our bird feeders.”

He and his wife moved in the Saddle Creek neighborhood off Clark Road because they are avid nature lovers.  “We don't like to see, just like we don't want to see a human suffering, we don’t want to see an animal suffering.” It has been especially hard for Aughey to watch a deer with a large tumor like growth on her chest.

He says when he first noticed the deer a month ago, the growth was the size a baseball. “It has grown from that baseball size to what you see now just in that short amount of time.”

According to Florida Fish and Wildlife biologist Gretchen Caudill, the growth is most likely a hydrocyst, a fluid-filled cyst that develops as the result of a traumatic injury.

“It has changed over time, like she moves her front leg around it now and every once in a while her legs have to hang back,” said Aughey, who is hopeful a wildlife rescue organization will step in and help the deer.

“Capturing this deer with the intent to perform surgery on it is exceedingly likely to end in a painful and suffering death for the unfortunate deer,” says veterinarian John Kirsch.

Kirsch says wild deer do not do well when captured or forced to have interaction with humans and often end up with a disease called myopathy. “Capture myopathy, a deadly disease in both an immediate sense, or a delayed one, involving more suffering, is overwhelmingly common in adult deer.”

Caudill agrees and says the FWC highly advise against taking any action towards trying to remove the cyst. “Our recommendation is to leave the deer as is and continue to observe for further immobility.”

She says if the deer becomes immobile, then the most humane course of action would be humane euthanization.