By Andrea Arnold
Deer sightings in McBride, especially in the winter, are not a new thing. However, the number of deer within the village keeps growing, and the concern for the safety of residents is growing too.
While feeding deer is not technically against the law (as deer are not a predator), the actions could lead to some pretty serious consequences. Consequences that could result in the loss of life.
First, if you are feeding deer and something happens to you, and you are unable to continue feeding them, then what? Some of the current deer population was born in town and perhaps have not learned the natural ways to find food because, well, why would they? This scenario could result in a couple of outcomes. One, the deer starve because their food source is gone. Or, as I read about in a news report, they go looking for other human food sources. One lady actually had a deer follow her into her house looking for food. When the food was not produced, the deer proceeded to stomp on the lady injuring her. It was later discovered that her neighbour had been feeding the deer.
There is also concern that someone, specifically a child, a senior, or anyone not quick enough to escape, could be approached by a deer looking for food, or get between a deer and its food source resulting in an attack.
I have done a little research and asked some of my own questions. There has been at least one instance in the valley where a lady was attacked by a deer and had to receive medical attention.
An increase of deer (prey) will inevitably result in an increase in predators. Recently there was a report of a pack of wolves comfortably lounging in a field just out of village limits, and there were cougar sightings within the village boundaries not long ago. It isn’t just an increase in predators hunting deer that are a concern. Feeding deer can result in other dangerous wildlife being attracted to the area. There is no way that someone putting out feed for a deer can guarantee a hungry bear that’s waking from hibernation, or getting ready to hibernate, doesn’t also find the food source. I don’t want to think what could happen if someone startled a bear mid-feast.
Also, as a dog owner, it is hard enough to find places to safely walk my dog. Adding in free-roaming deer with not only no fear of people, but an aggressive approach to humans and canines is scary. I have heard accounts of people out for a walk with their dog, being followed by a deer. I have personally seen what a barbed deer hoof can do to a dog’s face. We got off lucky with only a few stitches between my pup’s eyes. If you want a more detailed visual, I’m sure google could provide you with images.
One other area of concern is the possibility of collisions with cars. Increased animal traffic could result in accidents within town.
It’s hard to imagine that deer could be anything but gentle. However, the barbs on the hooves of a doe are used to stomp predators or enemies. Bucks use their antlers to fight off and even kill other bucks during mating season. They are unpredictable wildlife. I believe it is our duty to help them remain wildlife, and to keep members of the community safe.