Against the odds, a Mammoth Lakes fawn lives


Sometimes, a shotgun is no match against compassion.


That was the lesson that Wildlife Specialist Steve Searles and Mammoth Police Officer Luke Schwartzkopf re-learned last week when they saved the life of a fawn along the Lakes Basin Bike Path.


The fawn apparently had been brushed by a vehicle along Lake Mary Road, and then ended up disabled on the bike path.


“That little fawn almost got shot with a shotgun, and boy did we learn a lesson,” Searles said. “You don’t have to shoot everything that’s been hit by a car.”


The episode began routinely enough, Searles said.


“It’s a busy time of the year,” Searles said in a report to the Town Council on Oct. 2. 


“We pulled up on a call that the deer was in the bicycle lane on a busy road going up to the Lakes Basin. It was a young fawn, not spotted, but almost.  


“So [in situations like this] you get the guns out. That’s what we do. It’s a sad part of the job, but the thing needs to be euthanized and not suffer.


“So Officer Luke and I walked over there and we had to do something. Like I say, it’s a hard part of the job, to shoot a baby fawn lying there. 


“The fawn was looking at us with its big eyes and big ears, and Luke said to me, ‘I don’t want to shoot it.’ and I said, ‘Well, I don’t want to shoot it, either.’ So he said, ‘Let’s put the guns away and go mess with it.’”


Searles said he and Schwartzkopf slowly articulated the fawn’s legs, and it didn’t bite back or kick, and, Searles said, “it wasn’t screaming.”


“We played with its back and there we were, two full-grown men, you know, all emotional, carrying this little baby fawn. We carried it off the path and put it over in the woods where it would be safe, thinking that possibly the mother would come back.


“Luke is a great guy, and he likes the deer, so he went back a couple of hours later and snuck up and found the fawn was sound asleep. It wasn’t breathing hard; it wasn’t anxious; it wasn’t suffering in any way.  


“He texted me and kept me apprised, and then went up a couple of hours later and it was gone. It just needed some sleep.

“Sometimes, we all feel that way, too.”