Deer and any dogs don’t mix on trail

Education about deer habits encouraged for dog owners

Re: Bambi fights back (News, Aug. 24)

The deer is protecting its young. In this case the fawns are old enough to forage with their mother, but earlier in the year, a fawn may have been left in bushes while the mother gets nourishment for both of them.

Beware that conservation officers are not all knowledgeable. There is a well-known case of a woman in B.C. being attacked by a deer because she laid on top of her lap-mutts to protect them. An unusual case I suppose, but note that Mary-Jo Morin was with a dog.

Deer seem to treat dogs as enemies at a very instinctive level, not habituating as they seem to do with humans – likely they are thinking coyote and wolf. Deer are agile and can do damage with their hoofs. Just be thankful there aren’t caribou, elk, or moose here.

Deer are in urban areas because the food is better and the predators fewer, though cougar sightings seem to have increased with the deer population (I don’t have statistics, sometimes cougars get lost at night and follow a road or railway track in the wrong direction).

Morin should lobby individuals on the Capital Regional District board, who will probably have to make the final decision on how to handle the deer nuisance. She should work to educate voters that deer are animals who have long been food for humans. The B.C. government’s big report on deer found the only effective harm-reduction strategy was a periodic cull, typically giving the meat to food banks, but threw the issue over the wall to locals.

People should ensure dogs do not go near deer and look into possible ways to warn deer off. Such methods aren’t necessarily obvious, however, and may take a little research (e.g., in areas where hunting is allowed, sharp noises might scare such animals, but in urban areas I doubt it).

Keith Sketchley

Saanich

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