Oh, deer!

Photo by Bill Donoghue


By Karen Zautyk

KEARNY – You know those Pedestrian Crossing warning signs now in the streets all over town? It may be time to add some Deer Crossing ones.
Exurbia is not the place one expects to find the animals, but last year, a fawn was
born in a backyard on Linden Ave.–and turned over to the Humane Society after its mother ran away and left it. And another deer took up temporary residence in a
Laurel Ave. backyard a few months ago.
We became privy to this information on Friday, as we spent part of the day stalking a wayward doe around these environs.
We first learned of the creature’s presence via a phone call from Victor Vigilante
of Kearny, who had seen it gamboling in Town Hall Park around 9 a.m. When the animal headed onto Chestnut St., Vigilante drove his pickup truck around the block, cornered it and herded into a side yard at 398 Chestnut.
He then notified authorities—and us.
When we arrived, he was sitting on the front stoop; the deer was just a couple of feet away, lounging on the grass and contentedly munching leaves. We had never seen human and wild animal in such comfortable proximity, and we have christened Vigilante “The Deer Whisperer.“
He obviously had managed to keep it completely calm.
Also on the scene was Kearny Health Inspector Bill Pettigrew, who had already notified Bergen County Animal Welfare, which handles animal control for Kearny. It was from him that we learned of the fawn birth last year.
The deer, it is believed, make their way into Kearny along the abandoned railroad tracks. And, indeed, we later found out that this doe had first been seen Thursday on Hillcrest Road and earlier Friday near Mater Dei Academy, both close to the tracks north of Midland Ave.
While we were waiting for animal control, Mayor Alberto Santos stopped by to see the visitor, speculating that she might be contemplating a run against him, such as that launched online last year by the Kearny Llama–another wild critter found roaming our streets.
Santos later informed us that a committee, composed of Town Clerk Pat Carpenter, Lyla DeCastro of the clerk’s office, and the mayor himself, had decided to officially name the doe “Chestnut.” Because of where she was found, and because of the lovely color of her coat.
Your correspondent left the scene, with a request to Vigilante to keep us informed–and sure enough, about 2 p.m., there came a call that the doe was now in a yard at Oakwood Ave. and Beech St. Apparently, a car alarm on Chestnut St. had spooked her, and she took off, followed by a small posse.

Photo by Karen Zautyk/ Chestnut smiles for the camera.

At that point, there were two animal control people dealing with the situation, along with a Kearny police presence. Patrol cars were positioned to block traffic on Oakwood, and an effort was made to corral the deer. But Chestnut ran off again. South on Beech, north on Beech, west on Oakwood, in and out of the gas station at the corner of Kearny Ave. and Oakwood, east on Oakwood, north on Beech, into a backyard at 152 Beech (where a tranquilizer dart reportedly was fired but missed its mark), east on Midland, north on Devon….and then onto the railroad tracks. Where she disappeared.
“The story has a happy ending,” Pettigrew said.
Well, so far. It is hoped that she will not reappear.
Despite Chestnut’s flight, Vigliante, Pettigrew and animal control managed to keep her out of traffic danger, and she was not injured. Nor were any humans. But a lot of humans, including some Lincoln School students, who witnessed the event had quite a story to tell.
Hopefully, Chestnut will find her way back whence she came. Or at least into some vehicle-free, safer, wilder area.
Meanwhile, it behooves Kearny drivers to start keeping an eye out for deer. Really. You never know.
First, a llama. Then, a deer. What next? Bears?

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