Following a recent incident that saw a buck put down in Esquimalt after it was shot with a crossbow bolt, residents are reminded that discharging weapons in an urban area is not only illegal, but puts people and pets at risk.

Attacks on deer illegal – and dangerous

Awareness is key to reducing collisions and conflicts

Earlier this month, police were called to Esquimalt with reports of a large buck suffering with a crossbow bolt in its hindquarters.

With the injury leaving the deer in distress, police put the animal down, but the incident raises serious concerns.

“This is concerning, of course for the deer, but also concerning if people are going around shooting deer while there are kids and other pets around,” police noted.

It’s not the first time similar instances have occurred – a series of attacks were widely reported in Saanich and some neighbouring communities between 2010 and 2012.

The message is clear, however: Not only do bylaws prohibit the discharge of weapons within city limits, but the hunting of urban deer is a chargeable offence under the Wildlife Act, notes Kristy Kilpatrick, from the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society. “No matter how you feel about the deer in our communities, this is not an appropriate solution and puts humans and pets at risk.”

READ MORE: Deer in Esquimalt seen with crossbow bolt show through leg

Road safety matters, too

Not all risks posed to deer are as intentional as this incident, but most are avoidable. And the same precautions you take to avoid colliding with a startled deer will also go a long way to avoiding collisions with distracted children or startled pets, Kilpatrick says.

  • First, slow down in areas deer are known to frequent
  • Be alert to the road and roadside, scanning ahead
  • If you see one deer, slow down; they’re rarely alone, and others may follow or dart out
  • Remember that headlights will confuse deer and may cause them to freeze or startle
  • Young deer can act unpredictably and may not recognize vehicles as a threat

“Unless a deer is startled into your path by a dog, for example, or is very young, you should have time to stop, providing you’re driving safely and scanning ahead,” Kilpatrick says.

If a collision with a deer seems imminent:

Remove your foot from the accelerator and brake lightly, keeping the vehicle straight, and keeping a firm hold on the steering wheel. Do not swerve to try to miss the deer. Insurance adjusters say more car damage and personal injury is caused when drivers attempt to avoid colliding with a deer and instead strike guardrails or roll down grades.

If you do hit the deer:

If the deer is an adult and badly injured or unresponsive, pull over and call the police non-emergency line or BC Conservation Officer Service (1-877-952-7277). If it’s mobile but badly injured, tell them the location it was last seen, the direction it was headed, and details of the injury.

If it’s a fawn, it may have a chance to be rehabilitated with proper care – call BC SPCA Wild Arc (250-478-9453). If it’s a confirmed death, call the police non-emergency line or BC Conservation Officer Service to notify them about the body.

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