The SUV’s timing couldn’t have been better.
The vehicle — specifically, the one driving on Oak Bay’s Goodwin Street, near Currie Road, on June 27 — is the reason Rayna Corner and her dog Rooster managed to escape an aggressive doe.
“She chased us across the street. I tried to go behind a parked car to avoid her and she followed us, and I crossed the street again to go behind a different car, and she followed us, and we did that twice,” Corner said of the incident. “I was yelling, ‘Help!’ at this point, because I honestly didn’t know how I was going to get out of the street.”
The deer only backed off because of the approaching SUV. Corner said the people in the vehicle, who later pulled over to make sure Corner and her dog were okay, either saw the commotion or heard her yelling and slowed down to allow her to create more space between herself and the doe.
Today Rooster and I were chased around and around parked vehicles on Goodwin St near Currie in @districtOakBay by an aggressive doe, until finally an SUV stopped and blocked it just long enough for us to escape. It was *terrifying* @OakBayPolice #yyj 🏃🏽♀️🐕🦌— Rayna (@QuenchWines) June 27, 2019
It was terrifying, Corner said. She and Rooster, a medium-sized dog, are no strangers to encounters with deer — Corner recalled one incident a few years ago in which a deer, running around and kicking her fence, essentially held her and the dog hostage in their house and yard — but the most recent encounter was the first time she was chased.
She said she knows Rooster — because he’s a dog — can spark a deer’s aggressive behaviour, especially during fawning season when a doe may be protecting its young.
“It had nothing to do with me. It had everything to do with the dog and us surprising her,” she said, noting she won’t let anyone unfamiliar with her dog walk him, because of the potential for a sudden encounter with a deer.
Dog and deer are natural enemies, conservation officer Peter Pauwels said. Most deer encounters the conservation office hears of involve dogs.
“Deer believe the dogs are out to kill the fawns, and they don’t understand that that may not be the case,” he said. “That’s an instinct response.”
A major issue, especially in Oak Bay, is the deer do not fear people, he said.
“If a doe has no fear of people and sees somebody with a dog, then it’s not surprising it’s going to try to go after the dog or the person.”
Dog walkers who encounter an aggressive deer should try to create space; consider picking up the dog, if possible; and place a physical object, such as a vehicle, power pole or mailbox, between themselves and the deer. If these options aren’t available, the person should avoid turning their back on the deer, slowly back away, try to keep the dog close to them, and, if a stick or cane or other weapon is available, wave the object to try to fend off the deer, according to Pauwels.
His office receives about two or three calls a week, from mid-May to early July, about aggressive deer but is not generally able to respond — especially to calls in the Oak Bay area. The office is located in Langford, which can mean a lengthy drive and, thus, difficulties identifying the deer in question, he said.