LACEY TOWNSHIP, NJ – On Thursday, December 9, 2021, at approximately 8:30 a.m., this agency received multiple phone calls regarding approximately 12 deer submerged in a lagoon near Capstan and Varuna Drives in Forked River. Lacey Police Officer Michael Hutman responded and upon arrival met with Lanoka Harbor Fire Chief Jack Conaty, members from the Lanoka Harbor Fire Department, Lacey Township Underwater Rescue and Recovery, and Undersheriff Brian Klimakowski of the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office. All agencies began rescue efforts for the stranded deer.
Ultimately, 8 deer were corralled in the water by the Lacey Township Underwater Rescue boat, and guided toward an area of wooded marsh. These deer safely exited the water without further incident.
Additionally, 4 deer, which had separated from the group, were in need of physical removal from the cold waters. They were rescued from the waters and have since been relocated to a nearby wooded area.
While it is not uncommon for deer to bear cold temperatures and swim in these waters, wandering into unknown lagoons becomes dangerous for both the animals and the public. In a panicked state, the deer are unable to pull themselves from the water due to high bulk-heading and docks. Exhaustion and prolonged exposure to cold water temperatures often leads to hypothermia, even for an animal acclimated with the elements.
Although these animals appear to be friendly, we do not recommend that the public attempt these rescue efforts on their own. Close contact with animals under duress may result in serious injury to both the rescuer and the animal.