Sam Lillemoen is used to seeing the unexpected in the downtown Seattle neighborhood where he’s lived for the past couple of years, and it usually doesn’t faze him.
But when he saw a deer roaming the streets and alleyways of Belltown early Monday morning, he had to get a video.
“I’d had a little bout of insomnia and was going to get something to eat at the 5 Point Cafe, which is open all night, when I hopped on a bike and saw him,” said the 28-year-old content specialist for Expedia. “It kind of took off down Second (Avenue), and that’s the way I was headed, so I followed him.”
Lillemoen also shared his video with KUOW, and a staffer there posted it to Reddit, where commenters expressed concern for the deer and speculated about where it might have come from: Discovery Park? The Montlake Fill? Renton? Issaquah? “Up north”?
One person joked that the deer had traveled by ferry from Bainbridge Island, and others suggested the deer must be celebrating the “successful completion of the general hunting season, no doubt.”
But it’s likely the deer wasn’t playing tourist. Deer actually aren’t uncommon in urban environments, according to Capt. Alan Myers of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. In fact, he said, they exist in every U.S. city, living in greenbelts, parks and other public spaces and using riverbanks as a “wildlife superhighway” for travel.
“They are likely all around us” even when they are not obviously visible, Myers said.
While deer are not scavengers like raccoons, possums, rats and coyotes — other animals that are part of the urban environment — they, too, have adapted to living among humans.
However, it is unusual to see a ruminant walking on paved city streets.
“That is a little weird, and I can see how it would raise eyebrows,” Myers said.
Lillemoen said he was concerned about the deer, which was “ping-ponging and doing loops” between Second and Third avenues and Battery and Blanchard streets, until he saw the deer “walking directly toward a police officer” and figured the police would know what to do.
It turns out, though, that the thing to do is nothing. And that’s what the police did: No report was filed about deer activity early Monday morning, said Seattle Police spokesman Patrick Michaud, who added that he used to frequently see deer walking down Broadway and Madison Street when he was a patrol officer on Capitol Hill.
If you see a deer in the city, there’s no need to call police or animal control, Michaud said, unless the animal is hurt or stuck in something.
“They’re outside and they can move freely,” he said. “Just leave them alone.”