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Two ‘elk’ slain near Antoich were European red deer that escaped from farm

RMulhollwill not face charges for killing pair European red deer. | For Sun-Times Media

Ron Mulholland will not face charges for killing the pair of European red deer. | For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 10, 2012 6:33AM

It’s mistaken identity gone wild.

Ron Mulholland thought he arrowed two wild elk last Friday from his deer stand on a farm outside of Antioch.

When James Minogue saw the story in Wednesday’s Sun-Times, he recognized the pair of breeding European red deer from the herd he helps manage for Avery Brabender on a farm in unincorporated Antioch. They, along with four others, escaped some time after Oct. 31 when a gate was opened or left open.

“It amazed me that they think they are elk and wild,’’ Minogue said.

However, elk and red deer are close enough to interbreed.

“I will talk to him,’’ Mulholland said. “I assumed they were wild and killed them. To me, they were elk. I don’t know. ... I feel bad for the guy that he would lose them. I reacted because I assumed it was an elk and I shot him.’’

“You don’t see elk in the wild in Illinois,’’ said Kevin Bettis, the duty officer in Springfield Thursday for the Illinois Conservation Police.

That’s tricky. A decade ago, Illinois didn’t have wolves or cougars, either. Both species now make regular appearances.

“These animals were hand-fed: We feed them bread, apples, corn,,’’ Minogue said.

Another tricky part is neither elk nor European red deer are protected or regulated under Illinois’ wildlife code. But these European red deer are considered domesticated animals. The herd is registered with the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

“It is no different than shooting a cow,’’ Bettis said.

However, Capt. Neal Serdar of Region II (northeast Illinois) checked with CPOs in southern Illinois, where escaped animals of such sort are more a more frequent issue.

Then he said, “The individual who shot the two red deer did not break any laws.’’

The Illinois Conservation Police consider the case closed. Whether there is any civil case would seem tricky at best, since the animals were loose.

Minogue said they recaptured two of the red deer already. He said the reason there were no ear tags is because they are a “contained, monitored herd.’’

It sounds like both parties can work it out.

“If it gets down to that, I would give him the antlers,’’ Mulholland said. “But I kind of feel it is his responsibility.’’

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