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Firefighter killed by pet stag during roar season

Author
Otago Daily Times,
Publish Date
Tue, 30 Aug 2022, 2:12pm
Benjamin Henry McLean, 63, died on April 15, 2020, at his lifestyle property in Makarewa as a result of multiple traumatic injuries and blood loss after being gored by his stag. Photo / NZFFU
Benjamin Henry McLean, 63, died on April 15, 2020, at his lifestyle property in Makarewa as a result of multiple traumatic injuries and blood loss after being gored by his stag. Photo / NZFFU

Firefighter killed by pet stag during roar season

Author
Otago Daily Times,
Publish Date
Tue, 30 Aug 2022, 2:12pm

An Invercargill firefighter who was killed by his pet stag had been warned by his wife and colleagues not to go into the stag's paddock during the roar.

A finding released by coroner Alexandra Cunninghame says Benjamin Henry McLean, 63, died on April 15, 2020, at his lifestyle property in Makarewa as a result of multiple traumatic injuries and blood loss after being gored by his stag.

McLean and his partner, Binita Kumar, lived on the 4ha farm where they kept deer, pigs, sheep, alpacas, goats, chickens and ducks.

The bigger of two red stags kept at the farm, Robert, was four years old and had been bottle-reared by McLean and Kumar.

The two stags had been separated because of fighting due to the rutting season, or roar, as it is commonly known. As a result, Robert was put in a paddock with high deer fencing and three other red deer hinds.

Kumar, who was scared of Robert, had told McLean they should sell the stag but McLean reassured her that he would be safe because the stag knew him well.

"Ms Kumar, as well as Mr McLean's colleagues, had told him not to go into the paddock with stags during the roar," the coroner's report said.

On April 15, 2020, McLean went out to the farm at 11am and had not returned when Kumar left for work.

When he did not turn up for his shift, McLean's colleagues became concerned and went to his farm.

While searching the property, they found McLean pushed up against the fence, with serious injuries and ripped clothing.

One of his colleagues checked McLean's pulse through the fence but could not find one.

"During investigation, the police identified rut marks in the grass near Mr McLean's body, and the broken tip of an antler near him. Robert's antlers had blood on them," the report said.

A WorkSafe New Zealand guideline for safe deer handling, referred to in the findings, says from late January onwards, stags tend to become more aggressive.

Cunninghame's recommendations included Federated Farmers providing information on McLean's death to its members, "with a particular focus on its lifestyle block owner membership, in order to promote awareness among the community".

The organisation has already advised it would be happy to do so, saying it would time its messaging for the 2022-23 summer.

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