Deer rescued in creek drama

DEER oh deer - it's a good job you can swim.Firefighters took to the water to try and catch a deer which had fallen into a bricked-up creek.

DEER oh deer - it's a good job you can swim.

Firefighters took to the water to try and catch a deer which had fallen into a bricked-up creek in the centre of King's Lynn.

For more than an hour, the animal eluded them amid the traffic cones and carrier bags, as they pursued it through the reed beds of the Purfleet - a former tidal creek running alongside Purfleet Street, between Boots and the Custom House.

Streets were sealed off and a large crowd gathered as the deer showed it was not going to give in easily, to panto-like shouts of “it's over there - behind you” from shoppers.

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Office workers watched from nearby windows as firefighters floundered through waist-deep water in pursuit of the muntjac.

A cheer rang out as the RSPCA arrived and entered the water - which by now was bubbling ominously and smelling somewhat unsavoury.

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But the animal squad's net proved to be a little on the small side, as Bambi made another bid to swim for freedom, with three firefighters paddling after it to cheers from the crowd.

Then it was all over, as firefighter Simon Dietrich gained on the furry fugitive and the RSPCA men moved in and helped bundle the now screaming muntjac into a rubber dinghy, to a round of applause.

RSPCA Inspector Richard Lythgoe said of yesterday's incident: “We're used to land-based deer rescue, but water-based rescues are more dangerous.

“It's quite lucky, the RSPCA has not long put together a flood rescue team, not that long ago we wouldn't have had the equipment or training to do this.”

Watch manager Steve Gerrard, from Norfolk fire service, said: “It was text book, it was about chasing it and initially getting enough people in there - like Simon Dietrich, aka Mark Spitz.”

As Insp Lythgoe and animal collection officer Craig Plumley placed the deer in the back of their van, a question mark hung over its future.

They feared as muntjac - appropriately also known as Chinese water deer - are not a native species, they would not be permitted to re-release the animal back into the wild.

But a Natural England spokesman later said: “They're an invasive species and you're not normally meant to release them but the RSPCA as an animal hospital is licensed to re-release animals it has treated within 1km of where they were found.”

While it may not technically be a native, the muntjac is becoming increasingly common in and around King's Lynn.

Barman Simon Drewery, 21, who watched yesterday's rescue operation, said he had regularly seen deer from his flat in the Granaries, which overlooks the Purfleet and Baker Lane car park.

“I quite often see them going through the bins at two or three in the morning,” he said.

RSPCA officers were last night hoping to release the deer somewhere on the outskirts of King's Lynn later today .

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