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Maryland Officials Free Deer Stuck in Pretzel Container

Red deer silhouettes.According to a study at the Institute of Education at Plymouth University, 98% of parents believe that camping helps their children appreciate nature. But while many families go camping and experience nature up close each year, there are a number of people that show blatant disregard for the environment.

In late January, a deer in Bel Air, Maryland fell victim to pollution in its habitat. The deer, now affectionately known as “Jughead,” got its head stuck in a stray pretzel container while presumably trying to steal a lick of salt.

“When they’re empty, the salt that’s left in them is attractive to deer and other animals. Unfortunately, the heads on these young animals are about the right size for the openings on these containers,” said Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul A. Peditto.

Jughead had been spotted throughout Bel Air for nearly a week, but no one was able to help remove the container.

Although his vision was certainly impaired, Peditto said that Jughead would have been able to survive the plastic container longer than expected due to the shape of the deer’s head. While it may have been difficult, Jughead was still able to breathe. And during the winter months, the deer’s body tends to reserve far more fat, meaning that they can go without food or water for significant lengths of time.

The Bel Air community was heartbroken to see the deer unable to free itself but banded together to make an effort to release him from the jar.

“The whole community has kind of chipped in to kind of watch out for this guy and try to get it some help,” said resident Chris Beauchamp.

Peditto said that the Department of Natural Resources kept tabs on Jughead the deer and attempted to tranquilize him in order to safely remove the pretzel container, but since the darts are subject to wind patterns, officials did not feel comfortable targeting him until they were sure that he’d be tranquilized safely.

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“Essentially, the dart would get blown around in the kind of wind we’re experiencing,” he said. “And the outcome of having a poorly placed dart is actually worse than having a deer with a bucket on its head. If you put a dart in the chest cavity of a deer, you’re going to kill it.”

Eventually, Peditto and his team were able to safely tranquilize the deer and remove the container without harming it. They tagged the deer after removing the container in order to monitor its health.

The department said that the best way to prevent incidents like this in the future is to seal food containers with the proper lid and to dispose the containers into the proper receptacle.

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