An Australian man died and his wife was fighting for her life after they were both attacked by their pet deer Wednesday.

Paul McDonald, 47, was feeding the deer in its enclosure at the family property in Wangaratta, 155 miles from Melbourne, when the animal attacked him. His wife, Mandi, and their son rushed to the enclosure after hearing the man screaming. The son ran to get help and when he returned, he saw the animal attacking his mother. He then managed to drag her away from the deer.

Police arrived at the property and shot the deer, a cross between an elk and red deer, for the safety of the paramedic who were trying to save McDonald. However, despite their best efforts, the man succumbed to injuries at the scene. Mandi, on the other hand, was flown to a hospital after suffering from life-threatening upper-body and leg injuries. She was listed as being in a critical condition.

Acting Senior Sargent Paul Purcell of Wangaratta police said the family was devastated by what happened.

Deer with antlers
A representational image of a male deer with antlers Luke MacGregor/Reuters

"It's an absolute tragedy, the male was only about 46, and the woman is 45 – that's a lot of life potentially ahead. The family is just devastated. It's beyond words how they've been affected by this incident today," he said.

"The most important message is these are wild animals, whether in wild or kept as pets. Their behavior can be unpredictable so bearing that in mind people need to weigh up whether it's worth the risk keeping those animals," he added, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Experts say autumn is a mating season for most species of deer and a dangerous time to be around them.

Barry Howlett from the Australian Deer Association said, "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."

Howlett said the animal could attack humans in domesticated scenarios.

"It's not an everyday occurrence, but it's not unheard of for deer to kill people in that situation. Deer 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," he said.

This article originally appeared in IBTimes US.