Wildlife is one of the unique features that give the South Dakota landscape a beautiful appeal. But some of those wild animals are starting to make themselves at home in a Sioux Falls city park.
As day fades into evening and people rush home, deer make their way out of the trees and into Tomar Park. One by one, the deer come out, many scratching around for food. They're attracted to the south central Sioux Falls park because this is nearly a perfect home for them.
"In this park we have a nice wooded area; it provides a natural shelter for the animals. There's also lots of hiding for them as well. There's also a good food source for them as well and then a water source," Animal Control Officer Missy John said.
On this night, KELOLAND News counted 38 deer. We're told the number reaches 60 on some evenings. Sioux Falls Animal Control is reminding those who live around here not to treat the animals like pets.
"They're very capable of taking care of themselves. Also, when you start to feed animals, bait animals in, they become more of a nuisance animal rather than a natural background that we can normally look at," John said.
Animal control officers say it is also important to remember that these are wild animals, and while it may be enjoyable to watch them, do not try to approach them.
"Definitely do not interact with the deer. Most of the time when they see people they're going to try to go the other direction anyway. But if you spook the deer you could force them into the roads and cause accidents as well," John said.
And with Interstate 229 and Minnesota Avenue nearby, that's an important reminder. But for now, these deer seem quite happy in their new park pad.
In comparison to the deer living in the northeast corner of the city that prompted a special hunting season, that herd was estimated to have a population of 300 to 400 deer.
Watch extended video of deer in a Sioux Falls park by clicking on the video player below.