The City of Cranbrook and WildSafeBC are reporting an uptick in the number of complaints around aggressive does in the area. Both the City and WildSafe are reminding residents in Cranbrook, Kimberley and surrounding areas to be aware of fawning season and to call the RAPP line with any wildlife issues.
Fawning season takes place from May until mid-July until the fawns become independent of their mothers. Does can become aggressive in an attempt to protect their fawns, especially if they are habituated to urban areas.
In a press release, WildSafeBC explained that deer conflicts are increasing in many B.C. communities as deer loose their natural fear of people, find food and shelter and safety from predators.
“To ensure deer do not take up shop in your neighbourhood or yard, it is important to ensure they do not feel comfortable,” said Danica Roussy, Community Coordinator for WildSafeBC Kimberley-Cranbrook. “If they feel comfortable, female deer my decide it is okay to give birth to their fawns and though it sounds cute, [does] can become aggressive.”
“Many people do not mind when deer take up residence during the winter months, as they look very sweet and do not tend to bother us. However, once fawning season begins, these ‘sweet’ deer can become a hazard. Female does can be protective of their fawns and may charge dogs as they are perceived as a potential predator or threat.”
Roussy says that one of the ways residents can help with urban deer issues is to “remove the welcome mat”, or take away the opportunity for does and their offspring to feel comfortable in your yard.
“If people do not make the neighbourhood welcoming in the first place, the deer may have wintered elsewhere which could have reduced the potential conflict in the first place,” Roussy said. “Removing the welcome mat is quite simple really – make your yard unattractive to deer by trimming back any cover that they may use while traveling or bedding.”
Another effective method is to install motion-activated lights or sprinklers, or deter them with noise such as banging pots and pans.
“If you choose to chase the deer from the property whenever they appear, they will learn that your property is not worth the effort and move on. But remember that it is illegal for you or your dog to injure a deer,” Roussy adds.
Deer aggression and attacks can be unpredictable, but there are a few signs that point to an imminent charge; deer laying their ears back and lowering their head.
“If you encounter a deer, give them a wide berth and keep pets on leash and under control. If a deer indicates it may attack you or your pet, avoid eye contact, speak softly and back away slowly,” explained Roussy. “If there is a tree or other solid object nearby, try to get behind it. If you have bear spray, it can also be used on deer if they get too close.”
Roussy also advises trying to stay upright, cover your head and move to shelter if you are attacked by an aggressive deer. Also, if you find a fawn alone, it’s important to leave them where they are. Never feed any wildlife. In both Kimberley and Cranbrook it is against bylaw to do so. If you are caught feeding wildlife, you could be fined.
If there is a deer in your neighbourhood or community that is no longer afraid of people or pets, WildSafeBC and the City of Cranbrook recommend that you report it to the Conservation Officer Service by calling 1-877-952-7277. If you do not make the call, the situation may not be assessed as Conservation Officers are not aware of the conflict in the first place.
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