(MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo.) — Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) is investigating reports of deer killed on private property in Manitou Springs after those living in the town expressed concern Wednesday afternoon on Dec. 7.

Community members reported finding dead deer on private property with injuries that appeared to be gunshot wounds. CPW determined that fatal injuries on the deer were inflicted not by a firearm, but by another deer during the animal’s seasonal breeding ritual known as the rut.

“Deer are currently in rut, their breeding season, where bucks use their antlers to fight other bucks for the opportunity to mate,” states CPW. “It is common for the losing deer to sustain life-threatening injuries during these fights.”

At this time, deer are in peak mating season in Colorado, per CPW. During the mating season, bucks are territorial and loaded with testosterone. It is especially important to give deer extra space as the animal will stand its ground in the presence of people and attack individuals that appear to be competitive rivals.

CPW states that injuries from antlers can look very similar to gunshot wounds. Rangers are trained to differentiate these injuries during a necropsy, according to CPW.

“Bucks can turn this aggression toward people or pets as well, so be sure not to attract deer to your yard and keep your distance if you see one,” says CPW. “Be sure to keep your pets on a leash and under control at all times.”

The rut for deer usually continues until late December. During this time, bucks may also spar with and become tangled in swing sets, volleyball nets, bicycles, vegetable-wire cages, hoses and more. Holiday lights become a constant hazard to bucks this time of year. CPW is asking the public to make sure holiday decorations and lights are attached firmly to structures and strung at least eight feet off the ground. Do not drape lights loosely on top of shrubbery or wrap lights around the trunks of trees. Bucks often rub their antlers on trees to sharpen them during the mating season, says CPW.

“Our wildlife officers respond to calls every year of deer stuck in various netting and holiday decorations,” states CPW. “In some cases, these hazards prevent the deer from being able to eat and breathe. Additionally, this causes high levels of stress on the animal and can lead to fatality.”

If a deer is found tangled, it is important to quickly notify CPW. Community members are advised to never attempt to free deer of these hazards themselves due to the serious risk of injury that can be caused by antlers and hooves.

Drivers are also reminded to slow down and be on the lookout for deer on highways. Not only are bucks in pursuit of a mate, but animals are also migrating for the winter, which results in more animals crossing highways and arterial roadways.