Mule deer are not common in northwestern Minnesota or northeastern North Dakota, but the animals occasionally stray into the area.
According to Doug Franke, wildlife manager of the Minnesota Natural Resources Department at Thief River Falls, the mule deer had been seen in the Whitetail Deer area last fall for some time, but DNR officials were notified only last week.
The buck, which had a 2×3 rack, was about a year and a half years old, said Franke.
After Franke and DNR Conservation Officer Jeremy Woinarowicz received reports of the Dollar hanging on Highway 59 alone, he took a closer look last week. When he saw the deer for the first time on Monday, January 1
Within a few days, the mule deer showed no fear, and there were reports of a car driver physically shooing the buck off the road.
"At that point, it becomes a burden," said Franke. "For security reasons, we decided that we would look at it again and decide if it would have to be euthanized for security reasons."  On Thursday, January 17, Franke and DNR Conservation Officer Tony Elwell were able to break the 30-mark limit reach meter from the buck, and it did not even twitch as a jerk, said Franke.
Then the decision was made to have Elwell shoot the animal.
"It did not look injured, as if it were hurt by a man's car or something," Elwell said. "Basically, it looked very lethargic. I could probably have walked all the way there. It did not behave like a deer.
Physically, the buck looked good, said Franke.
"The body condition was really good, his physical appearance was good, but his cognitive health was suspicious," he said. "It did not all seem like it if you want to call it that. "
The buck was taken to the DNR office in Thief River Falls, and Franke collected lymph node samples and removed the brain for testing. This is a standard procedure for suspicious stags.
He sent the Lymph node specimens will be delivered to a DNR lab in Forest Lake, Minnesota on Wednesday, and results should be available in a few weeks.
The brain can not be shipped because it is in formalin and will be shipped to Forest Lake in early February said Franke.
"Since (Wednesday) we do not know what really caused it is in a sense not knowing its surroundings," said Franke. "At some point, it just was not aware what was going on."
Unlike whitetail, mule deer can get a brainworm like moose or elk, Franke said, but deer with chronic wasteful disease usually look good only appearing disoriented or emaciated in later stages of the disease.
By comparison, this buck was in good condition for mid-January.
As a precaution, the DNR keeps the carcasses until test results are available, Franke said.
"Every year we get a handful of suspicious stags that we do the same for, so it's not unusual," he said. "This one happened to be a mule deer."
The next mule deer population is in the west of North Dakota, but the origin of this buck is uncertain, Franke said. There were no ear tags or other physical markings on the box to indicate that it was a trapped deer.
"It was not tame," he said. "Behavior did not show itself as a tame deer. It was completely unknown what was going on. It was like some kind of brain dysfunction with dementia, which is going on in some way. "