ROXBURY — The rescue operation Saturday to get a deer off a lake behind a Morris County Walmart was mounted to prevent residents from trying to do it themselves.

Scott DiGiralomo, Morris County's emergency management coordinator, told New Jersey 101.5 that numerous calls had been received by county dispatch about the deer on Saturday. Initially, the decision was made to let the deer come off the pond on its own.

But after getting word that residents of Lakeside Village and Renaissance Village, which surround the pond, were planning to get a boat and help the doe themselves, a formal rescue was put together.

DiGiralomo said there was concern that those residents who felt bad for the deer would not be properly trained or equipped.

"We had the equipment and contingencies in place," DiGiralomo said.

His fear was confirmed early Sunday morning, when fresh shoe prints were spotted in the snow headed toward the deer.

"We were really concerned it would turn into a good Samaritan going out trying to help the deer and falling in the water and putting life at risk," DiGiralomo said.

The deer was not able to get any traction for more than 20 hours, according to DiGiralomo. It was also not able to stand up when it was finally brought to land. A police spokesman on Sunday said the doe was not injured by the incident, but as a “high stress” animal she built up lactic acids that poisoned the rest of her system.

The Roxbury Police Department posted an update on its Facebook page that the doe arrived safely at Antler Ridge Wildlife Refuge in Warren County where she was keep warm under a big blanket.

The county amphibious vehicle, called a Hydratrek, was towed out of the pond on Sunday and will eventually be put back into service.

"Nothing leaked from it so it didn't cause any problem to the lake. We have it here and we're working with the manufacturer to get it back into service.They don't believe there will be much damage because it's a marine unit. Their feeling it that it's probably a couple of gauges that need to be replaced,"  DiGiralomo said.

The OEM coordinator said he still needs to know why water got into the back of the unit, addeding weight and causing the Hydratrek to sink.

Roxbury Police were assisted by the Morris County Office of Emergency Management, Roxbury Fire Companies Nos. 1, 2 and 3 and Roxbury EMS.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at

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