The family of Paul McDonald, 46, has been left 'absolutely devastated' after he was killed by a pet deer in an attack which left his wife, Mandi, fighting for life.
Acting Senior Sergeant Paul Pursell said the mother-of-two was still in a critical condition in the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne.
Mr McDonald was feeding the deer at his property in Moyhu, near Wangaratta, about 8.20am on Wednesday when the animal attacked, his brother told Nine News.
Acting Senior Sergeant Pursell said the grief of the community of Moyhu and the man's family was 'beyond words'.
"It's an absolute tragedy, the male was only 46, the woman is 45 - that's a lot of life potentially ahead," he said.
"Her family is absolutely devastated."
Acting Senior Sergeant Pursell said the man entered the deer's enclosure about 8.20am and was attacked.
His son and wife heard the commotion and went outside.
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Acting Senior Sergeant Pursell said the son went to seek help, during which time the wife entered the enclosure and was attacked.
The commotion was also heard by a nearby ambulance officer beginning his shift.
The paramedic headed to the property as did police who shot the deer, which was a cross between an elk and red deer, multiple times.
Acting Senior Sergeant Pursell said police had to shoot the animal to protect the paramedic and the couple involved.
He said the family had kept the deer as a pet for three years and it was unclear what led to the attack.
"The most important message is these are wild animals, whether in wild or kept as pets," he said.
"Their behaviour can be unpredictable so bearing that in mind people need to weigh up whether worth the risk keeping those animals."
Acting Senior Sergeant Pursell said the couple were well known to many people in Moyhu and counselling would be available in the small town.
"The family are very traumatised by what's happened," he said.
The son and daughter of the couple have been taken to Melbourne and will be staying with family.
Police will prepare a report for the coroner.
A DEWLP spokesman added "while we understand this incident was caused by a pet, it's important to note that deer are wild animals and Victorians are reminded to exercise caution."
A man has died and a woman has been seriously injured after they were attacked by a deer they'd kept as a pet on their property in north-east Victoria.
Paul McDonald, 46, was feeding the deer at his property in Moyhu, near Wangaratta, about 8.20am on Wednesday when the animal attacked, his brother told Nine News.
Mr McDonald's wife, Mandi, rushed to help her husband but was also attacked by the deer.
Mr McDonald died from his injuries shortly after the attack.
Paramedics were called to the property just before 8.30am.
Ambulance Victoria said Ms McDonald was treated for upper body and leg injuries and was flown to The Alfred hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Moyhu is a small, close-knit community and one woman contacted by The Age said she was too close to the McDonald family to comment on Wednesday.
Autumn is mating, or rutting, season for many species of deer, and is a particularly dangerous time to be around the wild animals.
"An animal that would be otherwise docile for 10 months in the year, is an animal you really don't want to be around for two months," said Barry Howlett from the Australian Deer Association.
Stags and bucks grow sharp antlers and, filled with testosterone, aggressively fight with each other and other animals, including cows.
Mr Howlett said that deers can become a danger to humans in domesticated scenarios.
"It's not an everyday occurrence, but it's not unheard of for deer to kill people in that situation," he said.
"Deers stop eating, they shed a huge percentage of their body weight. They stop doing everything except for finding a female partner and become extremely aggressive," Mr Howlett said.
A man has been killed and a woman has been flown to hospital in Melbourne after an animal attack in Moyhu, south of Wangaratta.
Victoria Police said emergency services were on scene at a rural address near Wangaratta after an animal incident which occurred this morning.
It's believed a man and woman were attacked by a deer on their property around 8.20am. The deer was euthanised by police at the scene.
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Both residents suffered critical injuries however the man died a short time later.
An Ambulance Victoria spokeswoman said the woman was treated for upper body and leg injuries and remains in a serious condition.
She has been airlifted to hospital with life-threatening injuries.
The investigation is ongoing.
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