June 18, 2018
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Deer swims back to mainland after getting stuck on York island

By Susan Morse, York Weekly

YORK, Maine — The deer on Nubble Island that captured the attention of residents and visitors to Sohier Park since Monday, safely made it the mainland on Tuesday after two Parks and Recreation employees went to the island in an attempt to help.

Foreman Ryan Coite and Supervisor Ryan Avery waded from Sohier Park to the island around 12:15 p.m. at low tide Tuesday. They found the deer hunkered down in front of a door to the walkway between the caretaker’s house and lighthouse. As they approached, the deer bolted to an area in front of the steps to the caretaker’s house, and then went around the back of the island, where a cliff drops steeply to the ocean.

“He went down over,” Coite said, “climbing down like a mountain goat.”

The deer, which Coite believes is a doe, swam around the back of the island to a rocky point northeast, between Sohier Park and Short Sands Beach. Numerous bystanders who gathered to watch pointed to the deer, which could be seen in open ocean, heading for shore.

Coite saw it get out of the water, he said. It was last seen near the porch of a home in the area of 249 Nubble Road.

“It looked healthy,” said Coite, who said he and Avery got within 50 feet of the deer.

Coite and Avery expected to cross to the island via a rare rocky bridge at low tide that had been exposed at the 11:30 a.m. low tide on Monday. However, they ended up wading through at least two to three feet of water washing through the channel between the island and mainland.

No one interviewed knew how the deer got onto the island, whether it swam or used the land bridge.

It had been seen in front of the famous Cape Neddick “Nubble” Light since Monday morning. Numerous residents and visitors to Sohier Park have been posting their concern for the deer on The York Weekly and Seacoastonline.com Facebook pages. The deer was photographed standing in the yard and later in front of the walkway door.

York police on Monday fielded at least two calls from people concerned about the deer’s welfare, and in particular, how it would make it back to the mainland, according to dispatch.

Parks and Recreation Director Mike Sullivan said he hoped the deer would find its own way off the island. When on Tuesday his employees again spotted the deer, Sullivan called the state Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife expecting state officials to perhaps tranquilize and capture the deer. However, dealing with the deer became the town’s responsibility, according to Sullivan.

Having a deer on the island is unusual, Sullivan said.

“The concern is there is no food over there,” Sullivan said.


Correction: In a previous version of this story, photo captions incorrectly stated the deer was on the island Nov. 19, 2013.

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