RICE LAKE, Wis. (WCCO) — A Wisconsin family is dealing with the loss of a beloved pet. It’s a familiar story for many families. But that’s about all that’s common about a three-legged deer named Buddy, or the way he died.
Duncan and Luann McCannel live on a picturesque lake in western Wisconsin. They call it 116 acres of heaven, surrounded by nature, but now missing something special.
“You keep walking in the woods and you want him to come over,” said Duncan.
“He” is Buddy, a deer they found two years ago.
After they nursed him back to health, the deer bonded with their dogs and loved riding on their pontoon.
“We put it in the water, and he was the first one that jumped in, three legs and all,” said Duncan. “And if you didn’t take him on the pontoon boat, he’d swim out after you.”
“Yeah, he loved the pontoon boat,” said Luann. “Absolutely loved it. We were quite the sight going around the lake.”
That’s what made it so devastating when the Wisconsin DNR shot him last week. The state has rigid rules for deer licenses and fences, and after a few neighbors complained that he was eating flowers and bothering people, he was deemed a nuisance.
“We know he wasn’t going to last forever,” said Casey McCannel, Duncan and Luann’s daughter. “Deer live and get hit by cars. There are natural predators out there. The hunting season. We knew we were biding our time, we just weren’t expecting it to be so abrupt.”
Now, they are left with memories and find comfort in his page on Facebook, where Buddy has more than 150 friends.
“Got a response today from a friend in Austria that wished Buddy Happy Birthday,” said Luann. “And then rest in peace. He touched hearts.”
Wisconsin’s deer laws actually got tougher over the last few years, because of concerns about chronic-wasting disease. The McCannels are putting an obituary for Buddy in the newspaper, and are planning a memorial service for Buddy on Memorial Day.