2 deer swimming miles from shore in Southeast Alaska catch a ride from state troopers

Two stranded deer swimming miles offshore in Southeast Alaska’s Clarence Strait caught a ride to shore on an Alaska State Troopers boat last week.

Wildlife troopers were returning to Ketchikan from Earnest Sound when they saw the deer swimming near their boat about 4 miles offshore, spokesman Justin Freeman said in an email. The deer were fighting the current and floating down the strait, not toward any particular land mass, he said.

When the animals saw the boat, they turned and headed straight toward it, a troopers video posted online shows. The troopers turned off the engine to avoid spooking the deer, he said.

“Both deer ran into the side of the boat with their heads, indicating they wanted on board,” Freeman said. “The deer quickly swam over to the troopers on the swim step and let the troopers remove them from the water and place them on the back deck.”

The deer were in “rough shape” and appeared exhausted and stressed, Freeman said. They weren’t able to stand on the boat, he said. In the video, they are shaking after they were pulled aboard.

The troopers motored to a beach in Clarence Strait and took the deer off the boat. At first, they still struggled to stand and walk, but within about five minutes they were walking well and trotted off, Freeman said.

It’s relatively common for deer to swim from island to island in Southeast Alaska, Freeman said. Boaters should give deer space if they see them in the water and avoid creating a wake that could be dangerous for them, he said.