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MEEKER I Meeker’s Highland Cemetery is not just notable for its beauty and history, but for the peacefulness that pervades the property. In November, when vandals knocked over four headstones, Meeker Cemetery District Manager Art Cox called authorities to report the problem.
“One of those stones weighed close to 250 pounds,” Cox said.
Upon examination, gouges were evident in the soil near the headstones and scraping marks were noted on the stones themselves.
A week or so later, Cox said, he discovered more stones had been knocked down.
Within a few days, he received a call from Meeker resident Greg Glasgow, who informed Cox that “he got some pictures of the vandals.”
The culprits Glasgow caught on film were not, as might be assumed, a gang of misbehaved humans or an angry poltergeist. It appears a bunch of mule deer, including bucks in “rut,” perpetrated the damage while fighting for territory and does.
The stones have all been returned to normal, and the rambunctious animals have either settled down or moved on to new areas.
“Now I just have my ‘family’ up here,” Cox said of the 22 or so mule deer — bucks and does — that have made the cemetery their current home. Once there’s snow on the ground, they’ll pass through to other places, Cox said. For now, they seem content to lie around under the trees and nibble on whatever grass they can find.
Cox, who has been working for the cemetery district for 10 years, said this is the first time he has encountered this kind of behavior in mule deer at the cemetery.
While mule deer appear peaceful and shy, they can become aggressive towards pets and and even toward people, especially during the fall mating season.
In British Columbia, Canada, the town of Cranbrook is quietly culling nuisance deer from their residential neighborhoods after a newspaper carrier was attacked by a doe in July and a video of a dog being stomped by a white tailed deer while the dog’s owner screamed for help went viral on YouTube.
In Helena, Mont., the city has targeted 175-200 deer for culling this winter, following reports of aggressive deer and car accidents. Last year the City of Craig formed a committee to address the problems associated with “urbanized” deer following a series of citizen complaints about the mule deer population in town.