ST. MARIE'S, Idaho - When Mia Suchoski spotted an orphaned doe on her property over a year ago, she immediately called Idaho Fish and Game. She was told there wasn't anything that could be done and that it have to succumb to the elements. Suchoski said she couldn’t let that happen.
Soon, other neighbors rallied around in support. They helped to bottle feed “Baby” as they called her, until she was big enough to be on her own.
Baby seemed to thrive but never left the area, showing up in their yards for food and resting in driveways.
Doug Smeltzer, a neighbor who loved Baby said, “she'd come in the garage with me. I'd be working at my work bench and she'd stay with me for hours.”
Two weeks ago their source of happiness was suddenly taken from them. Complaints were received by Idaho Fish and Game and last Sunday a warden showed up, found Baby and got permission from the property owners to kill her her.
The warden didn’t tell homeowners on adjacent properties who were resting in the early morning hours. The loud sound of the bullets startled them.
“We heard something pop and thought it was a bird hitting the sliding glass door,” explained Smeltzer.
Neighbors frustrations do not stop there. The warden took off after the first shot. The problem was, Baby wasn’t dead. She showed up on Mike Johnston’s driveway bleeding.
“That was a big upset to me because I'm a hunter and you never leave game wounded,” Johnston said.
Phil Cooper, with Idaho Fish and Game, said the officer shot the deer and then went to get in her truck to go pick up the animal. When the deer stood up and ran off, the officer pursued to euthanize the deer.
When the warden returned, a crowd had formed around Baby.
“And then she shot a second time in front of the people that had cared for her for so long and in front of the children,” explained Suchoski.
From inches away, that second shot still did not kill the deer, who ran away before a third shot was fired. Many neighbors retreated back to their homes, too sad and shocked at what had happened.
“This deer ate out of my hand for a year,” said Smeltzer. “You could have taken a gun and put it right to her head. One shot. That didn't happen.”
Neighbors feel like Baby suffered in the end and want to know why Idaho Fish and Game didn’t take more precautions when killing the deer.
“Human safety is always the utmost concern throughout every response to a call,” said Cooper. “Officers are vigilant that their actions never endanger people.”
Cooper also said it is not common practice for an officer responding to this type of situation to go knocking on doors before removing an animal.
She says she is so upset with the way Fish and Game handled the situation, that she is looking into turning her property into a sanctuary for orphaned animals.
"She wasn't just a deer," said Suchoski. "I was really people's happiness, people's joys. And when Fish and Game shot her, they took that joy.”