GREELEY, Colo. -
A friendly young antelope found cavorting with a dog along a walking path was probably picked up illegally in Wyoming and may be too tame to return to the wild, wildlife authorities say. A family believed to have brought the animal to Colorado could face charges that carry fines and jail time, said Larry Rogstad, a district officer for the state Division of Wildlife.
The 3-month-old, 15-pound buck was spotted Wednesday morning, running and playing with a neighborhood dog named Skeeter along on the Poudre River trail, a path that runs through Greeley and the nearby town of Windsor.
"It's just the craziest thing I've ever seen," said Ronda Underwood. "We were just riding along the trail and saw this antelope playing with a dog."
She said the antelope came up to her, nuzzled its head and neck along her leg and seemed almost to beg to be petted.
Rogstad was summoned for fear that the antelope would be attacked by the numerous coyotes in the area. The animal, dubbed "Poudre" by passers-by, was taken to a wildlife refuge where handlers will try to get it ready to return to its natural habitat.
Rogstad said that may not work.
"It is totally imprinted now," he said. "The animal actually thinks he's a human."
Rogstad said members of the family believed to have brought the animal from Wyoming could face charges including illegal possession of live wildlife. He declined to name the family.
Wyoming officials could also bring charges, he said.
It wasn't immediately clear why Rogstad believed the animal was brought from Wyoming, about 40 miles north of Greeley. Antelope are found in both states, but the nearest indigenous antelope are about 20 miles from the city.