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Byline: Winston Ross The Register-Guard

Amy Caruana had just made enough room in the raised garden beds in the backyard of her southwest Eugene home for a fall crop of kale, brussels sprouts and broccoli, when she became distracted Sunday afternoon by a "huge rustling sound" in the row of trees on the property's edge.

She looked up and saw a deer, a buck with a broken antler, charging through her yard.

"He just came flying out," Caruana said.

Figuring the creature would be looking for a quick exit, Caruana moved away from the path around the side of the house, the easiest way out.

The deer decided on a shortcut. In a single bound, it leaped from a slope beneath Caruana's back window and straight through the glass, clearing a ledge nearly 5 feet high.

"It sailed through the window in one leap," she said. "Like it had practiced. Like it was an Olympic event."

Caruana's 16-year-old son, Patrick, heard the breaking window from his room.

"I figured it was mom dropping dishes," he said.

Mom was heading inside, her gardening shovel in hand.

"I'm kind of standing there, like 'OK, what do I do? There's a deer in my house,'" Caruana said.

But before she could formulate an answer, there was no longer a deer in her house. The buck dashed through the living room and bounded out the front window.

At that point, Patrick figured his mom wasn't just breaking dishes. "I thought maybe we were getting robbed or something," he said.

The deer stole nothing, but that didn't keep Caruana from calling the police.

"I know it's not a crime, and I don't expect them to do anything," she said. "I just thought they should know there's an injured animal running around the neighborhood. There are a lot of young children on this street."

Caruana's husband had seen the animal before, a few days ago, as have her neighbors, who reportedly snapped some photos of it, she said. The family lives on Chaucer Way, a residential street near Hawkins Heights City Park, southeast of Churchill High School.

Injured or no, the deer was not the first one to blast through a residential window in Oregon, said Doug Cottam, district wildlife biologist with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. It's happened at least once before in Eugene, in 1993, according to newspaper accounts.

Male deer in breeding season are known to charge their own reflections in glass, but Sunday's encounter happened within seconds, and the buck never really stopped to peer in the window, Caruana said.

The leading theory: Depending on what's happening with sunlight and glare, deer can't see glass. In a panic, on the run from a neighborhood dog or some other startling effect, they have been known to crash right through people's windows.

"Once inside the house, they can cause significant pandemonium," Cottam said.

In some urban areas, deer have become quite tame, Cottam said, exacerbated by people who feed them. They get used to being around houses and around people, but they're easily startled. Because they can run fast but not far, they can quickly become overheated and are known to make panicked decisions. "They can easily crash through windows," Cottam said.

It's not unheard-of for a deer to jump that high, either, even from the downward slope beneath Caruana's window.

"Generally speaking, a fence 8 1/2 feet high is what most people consider deer-proof," Cottam said.

Caruana called her insurance agent and left a message. In case the company requires evidence, she has it:

"You can see, there's like deer hoof prints on my sofa here."
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Title Annotation:Animals
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Geographic Code:4EUBL
Date:Sep 27, 2010
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