EXCLUSIVE: Oakland neighbors worry about young deer trapped behind fence at reservoir

Deborah Kenoyer set up a camera that has captured the deer growing up over the past few months

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ByDan Noyes via KGO logo
Thursday, October 6, 2022
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The ABC7 News I-Team answered some viewers' calls for help for a little deer trapped behind the fence at 39th Avenue Reservoir in Oakland.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- We've all been dealing with some serious headlines lately, so we decided to turn to a simple, pleasant topic -- answering some viewers' calls for help, for a little deer trapped behind the fence at a small East Bay reservoir.

When people can't get answers from government agencies, they sometimes call the ABC7 News I-Team's Dan Noyes. They also know he finds it hard to resist an animal story.

This is a story about a woman with a kind heart, and a young deer.

Deborah Kenoyer: "I call him Mr. Buck."

Noyes: "Mr. Buck."

Kenoyer: "Yes, that's what I call him."

Kenoyer first spotted Mr. Buck in June at the 39th Avenue Reservoir in Oakland, an 8-acre facility run by the East Bay Municipal Utility District. The neighborhood's drinking water supply is secure under that white cover, but there's no running water inside that fence for the deer.

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Kenoyer told the I-Team, "And it concerned me after like three weeks, it was still here. And I was concerned because it's so dry in there. It's so dry in there and you can't get water obviously, that's covered. I knew that."

Kenoyer called wildlife groups, the Department of Fish and Game, and East Bay MUD looking for help, but none came. So, she started putting out food and water. Check out the meals!

Kenoyer explains, "There's cabbage, peanuts, apples, what else is in there? There's some bread, he doesn't like wheat bread, but he likes white bread."

She also set up a little camera that has captured the deer growing up over the past few months. In one video, he has that youthful velvet on his antlers; in another, it's gone.

Kenoyer lamented, "I don't want to do this at all. I want him out of here. This is not a life for him. Especially if you aren't supposed to feed him or give him water. It's just gonna be stressful."

Kenoyer and her neighbors also worry about predators making an easy meal of Mr. Buck, trapped in that confined space. Joel Engel told the I-Team, "And then I saw two coyotes. So, they are using that reservoir as a thoroughfare. And they may be stalking that deer for all I know."

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After the deer's plight hit Nextdoor, some viewers contacted Noyes. First step, he wanted to see the deer for himself: "I'm staked out at 7:30 on Sunday nigh, have a camera down on the ground and then this is a great vantage point."

The deer easily spotted our camera one floor up, got spooked, but returned to eat. We also flew a drone to check the reservoir's fence line, and started calling and emailing officials from East Bay MUD. They finally sent a team of biologists to survey the scene.

EBMUD Supervising Fish & Wildlife Biologist Bert Mulchaey explained, "When you see these really narrow trails, they're deer path, deer trails."

Deer trails leading to a hole in the fence. Could it be an escape route? They set up a wildlife camera and over a few days, found Mr. Buck coming and going.

Mulchaey showed us the pictures: "There's him at night, going through the hole."

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Through that hole is the neighborhood, and other sources of food and water.

Noyes:: "To see the picture of his little butt going out that hole in the fence, does that make you feel better?"

Kenoyer: "It does make me feel a lot better, yes. He's been pulling my leg pretty good. Yeah, he has."

There's your answer. The biologist also says it's just about time for mating season, so the deer will probably head through that hole to find a mate. The question is if he comes back, and if he brings a new family with him.

Take a look at more stories by the ABC7 News I-Team.

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