Quit complaining about the deer

Deer are not naturally aggressive, kill and injure few people and were here before us - leave them alone!

Dear Editor,

Yes – you have probably read this before, but it bears repeating!

THE PRINCETON LAMENT

Oh Dear – Oh Dear – those dreadful deer,

What can we do if they come near?

Our kids and dogs must run in fear!

Those wretched deer are out to get us

Our roses, tulips and our lettuce.

They lay in ambush – attack our cars!

Put these scoundrels behind bars!

Fence in the town to end the threat

If that doesn’t work – just shoot them dead!

 

Yes – you have probably read this before, but it bears repeating!

This time I dedicate this little jingle to two residents who wrote letters to the Spotlight, both victimized by our wildlife and abandoned by our mayor and town council who have failed to wave a magic wand and make the deer disappear.

Both our weekly newspapers have provided them ample space to vent their hostility to the inconvenience of rural life.  Both present the same tiresome complaints and irrational fears we have seen regularly in both newspapers.  However, the residents have introduced new elements to the discussion – humour and hypocrisy!

One gets my funny bone award when she claims, in all seriousness, that the deer that have foraged at the dump “have muck on their feet and clean their feet in our yard” – LOL!

The other claims he is an animal lover – as long as they don’t inconvenience or annoy him.

He goes to great length in another local paper to explain that deer are not merely an urban problem but are pervasive throughout the area; just waiting to be hit by cars to ruin our day.

It follows then that, ideally, they should be removed from the environment entirely!  I sense no compassion in his words – only typical human self-interest!

Both residents claim they have followed all recommendations for best practice – choice of plants and optimal fencing but to no avail – and they live in constant fear that a deer will harm or kill them, or theirs – what needless paranoia!

Both of them roundly chastise our civic officials for wasting the town’s money on the LIVING WITH DEER brochure – a minimal, but helpful guide to wise conduct for coexisting with deer; in my view a very wise and worthwhile effort!

I urge everyone to read the little brochure and follow the advice offered, and remember that CULL is just a euphemism for KILL!

 

 

Let me be clear – I love the deer. They are part to the reason we moved here! I consider them a natural resource – and as much mine as they are yours.

My sentiments in this issue are obvious. Some individuals have irrational fears – of dogs, bees, and yes – deer.  I have empathy for these folks!

However, we should not let the fearful or impatient few turn Princeton into a killing field – as Kimberly, Cranbrook and Invermere did, despite strong, active opposition. It has left these communities divided and, making the News for all the wrong reasons!

Before anyone launches a campaign to kill my deer they had better be prepared with solid figures from our conservation officer, showing without doubt, that the deer population within the town limits is highly disproportional to the surrounding wilderness.

Last summer a group of four deer showed up on the little lawn at the Chevron station and caused a sensation – two tour buses were in the parking lot. Dozens of Oriental tourists rushed out to take their pictures!  They will take home this treasured memory of Princeton and show them excitedly to their friends – publicity you could not buy!

Deer are NOT naturally aggressive as any literature on wildlife will attest. In any case, how are defining aggressive behavior?

Failure to run away does not equate to aggression – neither does standing your ground in defense of your offspring; as any good mother would.

If individuals learned to use commons sense when the encounter a deer, much distress could be averted!  If you encounter a dear, on a hike or in your garden, for heaven’s sake, stay calm and move along quietly.

If the deer paws the ground and lowers its head it is upset. Stop whatever you are doing and back off!

Do not allow your dog, regardless of size, to harass a deer. To do so is both illegal and risky.  Dogs are canines.  In the wild, canines like wolves and coyotes hunt deer.  To a deer your dog is just another canine.  The deer will probably run BUT it may strike out in panic and injure the dog.

I have spent hours on the Internet searching for serious human physical injuries and deaths caused directly by deer.  Roughly a million deer die on North American roads every year and – yes – these collisions take a small number of people with them.  Whose fault is that?

Can deer threaten life and limb?  Yes, I found two fatal attacks by male deer in rut.  I found about fifteen other reported minor injury incidents – various bumps and bruises.  That is all I could confirm for the entire North American continent with a population of 331,473,276 million or more people.

If we assume half of these people live in metropolitan areas and have zero chance of encountering deer, your chance of being injured or killed by a deer appears to be one in about 10 million.

On the other hand, a recent study showed that 1,000 Americans per day are treated in emergency rooms for dog bites. In 2010 there were 34 fatal dog attacks in the USA. Most of the victims who receive medical attention are children, half of whom are bitten in the face.

Dog bite losses exceed $1 billion per year, with over $300 million paid by homeowners insurance.  So, which is the greater potential threat, a deer or a dog?

The landscape and gardening complaints irritate me the most. This is NOT the Lower Mainland!  It took me one season to learn that tulips and tea roses, peas and beans, are deer catnip!  There is an abundance of marvelous shrubs, perennials and annuals of equal beauty that thrive here – of absolutely no interest to deer.

If you don’t have landscaping success, do some research or visit Don and Anna’s Garden Centre in Keremeos.  They are wonderful about explaining what survives and thrives in Princeton. To me Princeton seems like gardening heaven – no slugs, few aphids and lots of sun!

Once when the gate was left open a deer nibbled on some of the beans and peas in my hobby garden – so what!  Would I support the death of even one deer over my veggies – absolutely NOT!

From the deer perspective, Princeton sits where, since time immemorial, they have come to look for food and water.  I suspect deer will be coming here for the rest of my days, and yours – so – let us hope we can come to a state of peaceful co-existence.

Even better – let us embrace them as the novel, and absolutely free, tourist attraction they can be!

Karin Green

Princeton