June 21, 2001 11:00 pm

By Gary Fletcher

Observer Staff Writer

WALLOWA LAKE A deer attack on a woman at Wallowa Lake is a reminder that precautions need to be taken around wild animals, even in tourist areas.

About 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Susan Collett was taking her toy poodle outside when a doe came from out of nowhere and knocked Collett off the bottom step of her deck and repeatedly struck her with its hooves.

It just kept coming back, Collett said. I thought I was going to die. It could have killed me. Im glad it did not happen to a child or one of our guests. It was bizarre.

What in the world, Sam Collett thought when he heard his wifes screams. He ran outside to join neighbors in yelling at the deer. He began throwing rocks at the animal.

The doe finally relented, but not until it had struck the woman a dozen or more times from her feet to her jaw.

Susan Collett has 10 bruises, abrasions and cuts from the incident.

Its amazing what it does to your emotions, she said. I cried for two hours.

A paramedic staying at Colletts Cabins treated her and told her she could get further medical treatment when she went home.

I am home, she replied.

The Colletts have lived adjacent to the Wallowa Lake General Store since 1998, not far from the state campground and park.

I knew not to feed the deer, Susan Collett said. She also said that she had been aware of a fawn in the area. She said she was being cautious, but still got blindsided by the deer charging up to her porch.

Another lake resident speculated that the presence of a dog might have triggered the doe to protect her fawn.

Another problem seen during fawning season is people picking up fawns, thinking that they are orphaned or abandoned, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife representative said.

If a fawn is thought to be orphaned, it should be reported to wildlife officials who can monitor it, then take appropriate action.