Friday, December 15, 2006

Seven-legged Deer and other freaks of nature

I can't think of anything that I have ever read, outside of a Stephen King story, that creeped me out as much as this.

Rick Lisko hunts deer with a bow but got his most unusual one driving his truck down his mile-long driveway. The young buck had nub antlers -- and seven legs. Lisko said it also had both male and female reproductive organs. "It was definitely a freak of nature," Lisko said. "I guess it's a real rarity."

He said he slowed down as the buck and two does ran across the driveway Nov. 22, but the buck ran under the truck and got hit.

When he looked at the animal, he noticed three- to four-inch appendages growing from the rear legs. Later, he found a smaller appendage growing from one of the front legs.

"It's a pretty weird deer," he said, describing the extra legs as resembling "crab pinchers."
Crab pincers? My skin is crawling!

This is the second bizarre deer story that I have read in less than a month. In November, a hunter in North Dakota bagged an eight-point buck... that turned out to be a doe.
"It's got no male utilities," said Erickson, who lives in Minot. "It has teats ... it was pretty unusual."

Six hunting partners with Erickson witnessed the doe with a 4-by-4 rack.

"I'm sure this story will be around for 10 years," he said. "At least in our group."

Erickson notified the state Game and Fish Department and received a voice mail from a biologist who said these types of deer often are bucks whose testicles haven't descended or for some reason are castrated. Erickson said that is not the case with his deer, however.

"We couldn't find any male genitals on the deer," he said.
Do deer occupy some place in the ecosystem, like frogs, that makes them especially susceptible to environmental contamination? I know that when scientists start seeing deformed frogs, such as those with missing (or extra) limbs, or with male and female genitalia, it is considered an indicator of toxic pollution. I wonder if something similar is happening with the deer in the northern United States.