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Born to be wild: Goat finds family with herd of deer

Greta the Goat sought freedom from the start
Greta is often spotted in the Horse Lake area with a pack of deer. (Submitted photo)

With a spirit that’s as wild as an untamed horse and a stubborn personality to match, Greta the goat was destined to live a life of freedom and adventure.

The two-year-old Toggenburg-Myotonic cross is often spotted in backyards and pastures in 100 Mile House’s Horse Lake area, tagging along with a herd of deer as they munch on grass and flowers and find a cozy spot to hunker down for a rest.

For Steph Leuke, who owned Greta for a brief time, the goat’s determination to roam free was unlike anything she had ever seen.

Leuke bought Greta in the summer of 2019 from a farm in Barriere. At the time, she said, there were several “red flags” about the four-month-old goat’s behaviour.

“We had to lasso and hogtie her just to get her into the car, and then she put so many holes in the back of the seats during the drive home,” Leuke said. “We ignored the intuition that there was something wrong.”

On Greta’s first night in her new home near Horse Lake, she broke down both her goat house door and the gate at the perimeter fence and made a break for it.

Leuke said she and her partner spent three months chasing the goat around the neighbourhood, trying to catch her before they realized she did not want to be caught.

“It was kind of comical, the first few months of chasing her. I would have neighbours calling and random strangers chasing her around their yard,” Leuke recalled. “This one older gentleman, we were running as fast as we could, trying to corner her against his fence, and he lost his shoe. And she just jumped right over his eight-foot fence.”

During that first winter, Greta was finally nabbed when she got tangled in a fence and injured her leg. A kind resident helped to nurse her back to health, but once she was well enough, she took off again, Leuke said.

This will be Greta’s third winter roaming free with her deer “family,” a sight that often stirs up curiosity - and humorous social media posts - when spotted by someone not familiar with the goat’s peculiar life.

The notion of a goat living with a bunch of deer was a first for 100 Mile Conservation Officer Murray Booth, who had not yet heard of Greta’s unique lifestyle.

“Lots of times, I’ve seen the opposite,” Booth said. “With deer in horse pastures and at hay bales with horses feeding side-by-side.”

Booth shared Greta’s story with the provincial wildlife veterinarian, who also said it was a rare occurrence, but not completely unexpected due to both goats and deer being “such social species.”

Although he couldn’t relay any immediate dangers to Greta’s safety, Booth said after checking with the veterinarian, there are a few parasites and pathogens that could be a concern.

“The biggest one is Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (Movi) transfer from domestic goats to wild sheep and goats. There is not a known issue to transfer to deer, but if this goat is free-ranging and could encounter wild sheep, that is a concern,” Booth said.

Neighbours who are familiar with Greta say she seems to know to stay close to homes and not wander too far onto Crown land. One nearby resident said she helps herself to her horse’s water and will snuggle up in their pole barn on cold nights, eating alfalfa to stay warm.

And while Leuke’s dreams of having a sweet pet goat were dashed when she came face-to-face with Great more than two years ago, she said she is happy that Greta is living the life she was destined to live.

“I would be really impressed if anyone could tame her.”

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