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Reminder to Let Wildlife Remain Wild

Image © Courtesy of Mary Harrison
A young deer at York Woods was found with a pet collar on it recently.

After finding a young deer wearing a pet collar at York Woods Forest Preserve in Oak Brook, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is reminding residents not to interact with or feed wildlife. 

West Chicago resident Mary Harrison was recently at York Woods photographing wildlife when she noticed the buck with a collar around its neck. After notifying the District, Harrison reached out her hand to the deer, which approached her, allowing her to pet it and remove the collar.

“Normally I would never approach a wild animal, but I was worried the forest preserve police might not be able to find him,” Harrison said. “He started licking my hand. I’m surprised he didn’t get the collar hooked on a fence. It would have been sad if he died because someone wanted him to be a pet.”

The collar was getting tight and starting to wear away the fur on the young buck’s neck, said Brian Kraskiewicz, a wildlife ecologist with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. That’s especially dangerous for bucks because their necks swell during the rut in the fall. “The collar could have obstructed the buck’s breathing,” he said.

There have been unsubstantiated reports of other deer near York Woods that may have pet collars on them as well, Kraskiewicz said.

But as Jack MacRae, a naturalist at Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn, added, wildlife should never be treated as pets. “These animals already have a difficult time growing up in the suburbs without humans interfering with them.”

With the breeding season for many species right around the corner, Kraskiewicz reminds people to leave fawns and all young unattended animals alone, saying it is common for parents to leave for hours at a time while they forage for food.  

“Fawns found alone do not need help. Taking a fawn from its natural habitat and teaching it to associate food with humans is doing the fawn a disservice and could be deadly for the animal,” Kraskiewicz said. “Animals that become imprinted on humans can forget their normal animal behavior and how to interact with other animals.” 

Joseph Cantore, president of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, said, “Being close to wild animals is an amazing experience, but it is one that is best enjoyed from afar. We ask visitors to respect the wildlife and natural resources in our forest preserves."

Deer and other wildlife in Illinois are protected by the Illinois Wildlife Code. Violations of the code are Class B misdemeanors punishable by a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and a $1,500 fine, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. 

Anyone with information about the deer with the collar should contact the District’s Office of Law Enforcement Office at 630-933-7240 or

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has been connecting people to nature for 100 years. More than 4 million people visit its 60 forest preserves, 145 miles of trails, five education centers and scores of programs each year. For information, call 630-933-7200 or visit, where you can also link to the District’s e-newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube pages.

Brian Kraskiewicz, Natural Resources
630-933-7671 |

Jack MacRae, Willowbrook Wildlife Center
630-942-6208 |

Deb Humiston, Communications & Marketing
630-871-6402 |


Image © Courtesy of Mary Harrison
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