It sounds like the start of a bad joke, but three deer ran into a Canadian petrol station in a panic, sparking a minutes-long struggle to find their way back out to freedom.
Security camera footage from the petrol station in Grand Falls, New Brunswick, shows the adventure on the morning of January 30. In the video, a person scrambles to get behind the counter for safety and then pulls out his phone to document what was happening as the deer stumble around the station, struggling to walk on the tile floor and wreaking havoc on the shelves full of merchandise.
In the video, the deer attempt to escape several times, to no avail. One bystander finally holds the door open for them, and they hustle out.
Bill Samuel, a retired biologist and deer expert at the University of Alberta in Canada, says it’s likely the deer may have been in a predicament outside of the petrol station and were looking to escape.
“They likely thought the glass door was an opening for escape, like birds that fly into windows thinking there is nothing there but air,” Samuel says. “Once in the store, they panicked even further.”
Deer often frequent the edges of habitats near people because that’s where they can find food. Samuel says where he lives in Edmonton, a large river valley bisects the city and wildlife occasionally wander into areas where there are people, like roads, highways, and backyards.
This can sometimes put wildlife in situations where they panic. In the case of the deer in this video, the right way to help could involve throwing a blanket over them to capture and move them to safety or propping the door open, as the bystander did.