Content warning: The photographs and descriptions in the following article may be disturbing to some readers.
By Grace Frost
An elderly woman in palliative care has been afraid after finding a decapitated deer on her Whittlesea property, with numerous authorities unable to assist her.
Nancy, who preferred not to give her surname, spotted an animal on its back when travelling down her driveway in mid-October.
“As I got closer, all I could see was blood on the mutilated body of the large animal. It became clear that the animal had been decapitated in a very brutal way,” Nancy said.
“My family and I had seen the big buck wandering around my property for many years. It did no harm to us or my land.”
The 84-year-old widow said she was ‘immediately alarmed’ the deer had been stalked illegally on her property, near a major road and her neighbours’ trotting horses.
Licenced hunters suggested the buck had been shot with a high-powered rifle in close proximity to her home.
“These hunters would have needed to go over my fence and travel hundreds of metres through my private property and past my home to stalk and shoot the animal in my front yard,” Nancy said.
“They did not have my permission to do so, and I have been made to feel very unsafe.”
Nancy, who has late-stage cancer, contacted authorities for help, but each ‘passed the buck’ and bounced her complaint off, unable to assist with the animal carcass decaying at her property.
She first phoned Whittlesea Police Station three times when she spotted the deer, but no one answered.
She then rang the non-emergency police phone line, who connected her to triple zero, and was told to call Whittlesea Police Station again.
When Whittlesea Police Station answered, Nancy was told police officers could not help her and directed her to contact City of Whittlesea council.
A Victoria Police spokesperson said a sergeant had encouraged Nancy to call her back should council be unable to assist with the buck.
Though Nancy said a sergeant had assured her they would follow up, but did not do so.
Council told Nancy it only removed animals from public land, not private, and told her she should call Wildlife Victoria.
Wildlife Victoria could not assist as the deer was not native, due to Sambar deer being regarded as a pest animal in Australia, and told Nancy to call the RSPCA.
But the RSPCA was unable to help as the disposal of animal carcasses is not a service it provides.
Nancy said the RSPCA told her that it was her responsibility to bury the carcass.
An RSPCA spokesperson acknowledged how distressing the situation was for Nancy, and understood the ‘confusion and frustration regarding the complexity of this situation’.
“I have been left exhausted and distressed by this incident, and disappointed at the lack of help available,” Nancy said.
“I don’t think that it’s fair that I’m now left with the decaying animal in my front yard, and the whole situation has made me very sad and afraid that this will continue to happen more often.”
Whittlesea police have since visited Nancy at her home to discuss the incident and encouraged her to call if she felt unsafe.
Police will also begin conducting patrols of the area.
But the deer still remains at Nancy’s Whittlesea property three weeks on, headless and maggot-infested.
Authorities have said the removal will most likely need to be an act of charity.