Deer destroyed after leaping onto train.
A young deer apparently leapt from the I-15 overpass in the Sixth Ward area to find itself atop a boxcar last week. A young mulie buck survived a jump from the I-15 overpass above Helena’s Sixth Ward train depot onto a boxcar last week, but had to be destroyed after being further injured by a leap from the boxcar to the ground.
Linda Frost, spokesperson for Montana Rail Link, said no employees saw the buck make his leap of faith. However, once they noticed the stranded animal atop the boxcar, employees called for help from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Game Warden Randy Arnold took the Jan. 2 call, and asked Warden Dave Loewen to accompany him.
“I figured this presented some additional manpower issues,” Arnold said.
From the ground, the game wardens could see that the buck had a broken front leg. But deer can survive with that — the main problem facing them was how to get the buck from the boxcar to the ground.
We were kind of pressed to get the best way to get the deer off the boxcar,” Arnold said.
They worried that tranquilizing the deer to lower it to the ground, or wrestling it down, wasn’t going to be effective and might be too stressful on the animal.“We decided that the only way to get him off of it was for it to jump on its own,” he noted. “We wanted to give it a chance.”Loewen climbed atop the boxcar and the deer took a flying leap.“He landed on all four feet,”
Arnold said. “But then we could see that he also had a broken back leg, too.”They decided that the buck stopped here, and shot it. The wardens transported the carcass to the wildlife center, where it was fed to the few bears that hadn’t yet gone into hibernation.
Arnold said that while they don’t get a lot of calls to rescue deer from the top of trains, this isn’t the first time a deer has leapt from the interstate in the area.
He recalled that along with the occasional deer on boxcars, FWP has picked up numerous dead deer from off of the ground, which apparently also died after leaping off the overpass.
Arnold theorizes that the deer get trapped on the overpass and frightened by passing cars, then take the plunge as a final way out.
Reporter Eve Byron