Urban wildlife ~ Deer 101

Over the next few weeks, the Spotlight will feature articles on wildlife-human conflict, courtesy of Zoe Kirk.

Zoe Kirk

Zoe Kirk

The Okanagan/Similkameen is home to several ungulate species such as the White Tail, Mule deer and Elk. Dealing with unwanted deer is frustrating and challenging, especially in urbanized environments within the RDOS and local municipalities.

Some residents (and visitors) see deer as the image of grace; pretty velvety spirits who move ethereally in and out of yards and laneways, grazing and adorning our streets like moving statues of art. Others see deer as complete nuisances like rats on hooves, that devour anything in their path, spar with domestic animals and challenge owners for their property rights. Deer are far more than any one dimensional perception. They have not survived so well for so long if they were not endowed with much more ingenuity than we attribute to them.

Deer have an imbedded natural drive which is consistent (except in mating season) and useful for humans to understand. Deer survival programming, in order of importance, includes a ‘To Do’ list: Don’t get eaten – Eat – Rest – Protect; set about dominating other deer to remain safe in your range

Deer are well equipped to avoid predators. Communities that learn how to exploit their natural instincts can reduce the potential deer/human conflict that seems to become inevitable when deer move in and reproduce in populated areas.

Deer pay close attention to all their senses. Modifying our behavior by using a variety of techniques to disarm deer will be the safest and best defence to keep deer away from areas that we label as ‘No Go’ zones. Adopting this strategy will help move deer back to their natural habitat outside of populated areas, back into the fringes and  wilderness.

The next installment will explore the deer’s five senses and corresponding deterrents.  Deer proofing is a combination of non lethal defences and can be implemented in any yard or community. In the meantime, deer deterrent information is available on the following web sites:

www.wikihow.com/Keep-Deer-Out-of-Your-Yard  www.bbg.org/gardening/article/deer_deterrents_that_work

A word of caution; when reading the literature on these sites, make sure the ‘free roaming dogs’ have a perimeter fence or way of keeping them in your yard not the neighbours…

Zoe Kirk

RDOS Bear Aware/WildSafeBC Community Coordinator