Image Source: https://www.theguardian.com/
The last thing Carrot the deer probably wanted in 2020 was a hole in his head.
But the Canadian whitetail deer which made headlines last week for his shocking injury no longer has an arrow impaling his head.
After photographs of the injured deer went viral last week, conservation officers initially advised against removing the carbon fibre arrow, out of concern it could cause infection.
But staff from Ontario’s ministry of natural resources and forestry decided that the risk of further injury meant they had to go ahead with the delicate procedure.
An initial attempt on Wednesday failed after Carrot continued to move after being sedated, but on Thursday, wildlife officials tranquilized him again and began to extract the arrow.
None of the team in the remote community of Kenora had ever undertaken such an operation, so a veterinarian 2,000km away in Ottawa gave detailed instructions over the telephone.
The arrow was removed without any bleeding, and on Monday the ministry announced it was “cautiously optimistic” that Carrot would make a full recovery. But that outcome was not inevitable: tranquilizers can often provoke a fatal reaction in deer. After the arrow was removed, pus oozed from the wound and Carrot’s tongue turned blue.
“He was really imperilled at [one] point,” said Carver. “I couldn’t report that he was going to be OK because the few times I’d seen him since he wasn’t looking good.
“There was more of a likelihood that he would die than live after what he went through. There were no guarantees.”
Carver’s lengthy Facebook updates on Carrot’s condition have been followed by thousands of people around the world. Many children have responded to her posts, she said, saying they want to become veterinarians or offering their savings to help the deer’s recovery.
“What he’s gone through in the last few weeks – from a bolt through his head to having it removed and enduring the bitter winter … I can’t imagine another animal surviving,” said Lee-Anne Carver, a wildlife photographer who has documented the deer’s unlikely story.
After recovering from sedation, Carrot was not seen for several days and Carver grew increasingly fearful.
Early on Monday, she went out looking for him again, driving the snowy roads as the temperature neared -22C.
Her heart sank as she spotted a tree with a dozen ravens – the sign an animal has died nearby. But after scouring the area in the bitter cold, she found no trace of Carrot.
“I’d just given up hope. Maybe it was just too much for him.”
Driving home at sunrise, however, she caught sight of deer by the side of the road and gave a shout of joy as Carrot trotted across the road to lick her hands.
“I just can’t believe it. My heart is so filled with joy. He’s pulled so many of us through that maze of darkness and we’ve been made happy again,” she said. “He really truly is the deer of year.”