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Deer starts family in trendy Boystown

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Updated: September 29, 2011 12:41AM

A mother deer found an unlikely home -- the heart of Boystown — and gave birth in recent days to two fawns, who are now living near Belmont and Halsted.

Amid the bustling North Side neighborhood, the doe landed in a secluded, gravel courtyard behind an apartment building. To get to this spot, she likely would have had to walk down an alley, turn into a narrow gangway and pass through a gate of a chain-link fence.

“The mother is big, about 250 pounds, and she had birth right in this little gangway area,” said Frank Aolokotronis, who works at a nearby restaurant. “It’s crazy. We’re talking about the middle of the city here.”

“It sounds as peculiar to me as it does to you,” said Kevin Luby, a naturalist at the Glen Ellyn-based Willowbrook Wildlife Center. “She might have gotten herself into that situation and then had an emergency birth right there. I don’t think it’s something she would have chosen.”

The doe’s newborns appear to be doing well. They can prance around the small stones, but they are not strong enough to keep up with mom, who often leaves during the day to forage.

“Moms leave their fawns alone every day and it’s perfectly normal,” said Dawn Keller, executive director of Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation. “She usually only comes back to nurse.”

While this mother deer is gone, the two fawns can often be heard crying. And during last week’s rainstorms, they reportedly took shelter under an air conditioning unit.

Despite the unusual setting, it’s best to leave the deer where they are, experts said. Chicago Animal Care and Control is aware of the situation but said it will generally leave animals alone unless they are injured or pose a threat.

“She is living the life that deer live, just in a very peculiar place,” Luby said. “This is probably the most urban deer that I’ve ever heard of. . . . The kids might actually learn from her and learn to live the same lifestyle she has.”

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