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B.C. conservation officer saves baby deer with emergency C-section

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A B.C. conservation officer saved the life of a baby deer last week by performing an emergency C-section on a pregnant deer that was hit by a vehicle on Vancouver Island.

The miraculous rescue happened on May 24, when Sgt. Stuart Bates of the B.C. Conservation Officers Service was called to an injured deer in the south end of Parksville, B.C.

The adult doe had to be put down due to her injuries, but Bates knew that this time of year is when deer generally give birth.

"I quickly did a check and found out it was pregnant," Bates told CTV News.

When the conservation officer put down the mother deer, he knew that her heart would keep beating for a short period after.

"I knew I had a couple minutes, so I had a knife and just very quickly did a C-section and was able to find a fawn and pull it out," said Bates.

After he pulled out the fawn, he did some rubbing and knew to shake it to get the fluids out of its nose. Finally, he got it breathing.

Hazel the fawn is pictured. (Stuart Bates)

Bates has been a conservation officer for 16 years and doesn’t recall anything like this happening before.

"This is very rare to happen. The fawn had to have been a day or two [away from] being born anyway, or it wouldn’t have worked," he said.

"A lot of stars had to align for this one."

HOW TO RAISE AN ORPHANED DEER?

Bates called a provincial wildlife veterinarian at the time and was told to wrap the baby deer in a towel and bring it in quickly to the vet.

The vet gave the fawn some colostrum they had on hand and then Bates brought the newborn to a family in Ladysmith, B.C., who he knows has goats to foster the baby.

"He showed up in my driveway with a box in his arms and real sheepish, hopeful look in his face," said Jocelyn Lord, a member of the foster family.

"He basically handed me a box with this beautiful fawn, and what does one say when you do that?" she said.

Without milk from its mother, the best chance of survival for the fawn is to feed it goat milk. Luckily, one of Lord’s goats had just given birth and there was lots of milk on hand.

"They graze on similar plant life so their consistency of their milk is very similar," said Lord.

"For a fawn, that’s going to give it the best chance of life," she said.

"Having that readily available supply of fresh goat's milk is probably why this baby deer is doing so well," added Bates.

Over a week later, the fawn, who Lord’s family named Hazel, is thriving and has 10 acres at the property to grow.

For now, Hazel stays inside with Lord’s family during the night to protect her from flies laying eggs on her. The mother deer would typically lick off the eggs until they are old enough to do so themselves.

Hazel is expected to stay with the family until she is big enough to go to a deer rehabilitation centre, before hopefully being released into the wild in the fall.

"He’s such a kind soul, I loved that he wanted to save this fawn," Lord said of Bates.

"He knew that one life had to be put down but the fact that he had the wherewithal to save the other life was pretty brave," she said.

Lord’s daughter is also documenting Hazel’s recovery on her YouTube channel.

B.C. conservation officer Sgt. Stuart Bates is pictured with Hazel. (Stuart Bates)

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