Manitoba’s conservation minister has ordered a review after wildlife officers shot and killed a deer named Bambi in front of members of a Hutterite colony that raised the animal.

Officers shot Bambi in the head in front of shocked witnesses at the Windy Bay Colony last week after deciding that the deer posed a risk to the community.

Colony members had discovered the injured animal in a ditch last summer and nursed him back to health with fresh-baked bread, beef jerky and milk.

“It would tap its nose on the window if it wanted food,” Ernie Maendel told CTV Winnipeg. “If it was really cold we’d give it a bottle and it would come here and go to sleep.”

The deer played with children and dogs without incident. But one colony member became concerned when Bambi started growing antlers and called the conservation department in hopes the deer could be taken to a more appropriate environment.

Two officers were dispatched to the area and they determined that Bambi had become too reliant on humans to survive on his own in the wild. The Winnipeg Zoo was not taking in any more deer, so the officers decided to euthanize Bambi.

But colony members are questioning why the deer had to be shot in front of them.

“All they did was make a couple of people back away from the immediate area and waited until the head was in the right position and shot it with a 9-millimetre pistol,” Maendel said.

Conservation manager Jack Harrigan told The Canadian Press that the officers first tried to capture the deer and take it elsewhere, but some men at the colony refused to help.

One of the residents did try to help them tie Bambi’s feet together, but the deer ran off.

When the two officers left, Bambi returned and someone from the colony called them back. That’s when they decided to kill the deer before it ran off again, Harrigan said.

Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh has ordered a review of the incident, and said changes should be made to the provincial policy on wildlife euthanasia.

“When euthanasia is called for, (it should) be done considering all humane options, as well as consideration for the environment and what’s going on in terms of any observers and so on,” he said.

Experts say that while deer may be cute, they are still wild animals and can be very dangerous.

“When these animals are imprinted or used to people, and especially a male deer, the chances it becomes aggressive toward humans in very likely,” said Lisa Tretiak of the Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

In one case last year, a woman who approached a deer in Winnipeg was knocked down and left with a gash in her thigh that missed a major artery by only an inch.

Maendel said he thought he was doing the right thing when he helped rescue Bambi from the ditch. He said the colony only planned to look after him through the winter and then release him into the wild.

With a report from CTV Winnipeg’s Caroline Barghout and files from The Canadian Press