YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Last week, town employees sprang into action when a baby deer got itself trapped in a storm drain.
Around 8:45 a.m. Thursday, June 1, a passing motorist witnessed a fawn, only days old, fall into a storm drain at the intersection of Hallocks Mill Road and Gerard Court after being startled by a school bus. The woman called the Yorktown Police Department, and Animal Control Officer James Waterhouse spent the next six hours attempting to free the fawn, with the help of other town departments.
Noting the storm drain’s small size, Waterhouse said the chances of the fawn falling through the grate were “one-in-a-million.” Unable to see the fawn from the street, Waterhouse’s first action was to call the highway department, which opened the storm drain up and allowed the officer to get a closer look.
The fawn had traveled an estimated 150 yards down the pipe, Waterhouse said, and town employees explored options to lure it back out. First, he called the sewer department, which attempted to flood the fawn out, “as gently as we could.”
“We wound up using that for a while, but we didn’t hear anything, and it got to the point where we couldn’t see it anymore,” Waterhouse said. “As time went on, I wasn’t really as optimistic.”
Unsuccessful, Waterhouse turned to YouTube, where he found videos of does calling their fawns. He played the video loudly down the pipe in hopes that the fawn would respond.
Eventually, in between flooding the pipes and calling the fawn, Waterhouse heard a cry.
“I heard it scream, so I just started mimicking the sounds I heard on YouTube,” he said. “And the thing actually, from what I perceived, was responding. I would make a noise, it would make a noise.”
The fawn continued its way down the pipe and made its way to Waterhouse.
“As soon as its head came out, I jumped in and grabbed it,” he said.
The officer immediately wrapped the fawn in a blanket and placed it in his heated van for about a half-hour. The fawn was physically uninjured, Waterhouse said.
Realizing that deer tend to travel the same paths every day, he placed the fawn in an area where neighbors said deer are often spotted.
“We sat her down in there,” he said. “As soon we put her down, she walked off a little bit and laid down.”
Waterhouse commended the efforts of the town’s highway and sewer crews.
“At the end of the day, I just kind of stole their glory,” he said. “I play with animals, so I pulled the animal out. They’re the ones that brought it to that point. If not, the thing would still be stuck in there.”
Waterhouse said he responds to a lot of bad calls, and was happy to see this incident have a happy ending.
“This was definitely a real good experience,” he said. “It kind of gives you that boost to know that what you’re doing isn’t for naught.”
Yorktown Police Chief Robert Noble, who has dubbed the episode “BambiHouse,” also applauded the efforts of all involved.
“Great job by James and all of the town employees who spent hours out there and contributed to a very positive ending for ‘BambiHouse,’” Noble said. “Judging by the smiles on the faces of those workers there, I’m sure they are proud of the job they all pitched in to do and they should be. It’s just a great, feel good story.”