Deer defending their turf

RCMP had to shoo away an aggressive deer from a woman walking her dog in Okanagan Falls on Monday afternoon.

RCMP had to shoo away an aggressive deer from a woman walking her dog in Okanagan Falls on Monday afternoon.

Sgt. Rick Dellebuur said RCMP were called to assist a woman walking near the Okanagan Falls provincial park around 3:45 p.m. where she had an encounter with a deer who had fawns. The deer challenged the woman and wouldn’t let her come up off the river dyke.

“The deer didn’t actually make contact with the woman,” said Sgt. Jim Beck, the officer in charge of the South Okanagan zone for the Conservation Officer Service.

“June and July is our peak fawning period so it isn’t that uncommon to get these types of occurrences. The deer does not differentiate between a domestic dog and a wolf or coyote. They see them as a predator period.”

Beck said there has been at least three reports of deer attacking dogs in the South Okanagan, and this year the conservation officers have seen a higher occurrence of the aggressive deer.

“We have had a number of dogs injured and beat up this year. There is a generation of urban deer that aren’t that afraid of dogs anymore. Last year we had aggressive behaviour where it actually made contact with a gentleman in Princeton. The deer actually hit him in the head with its hooves,” said Beck.

According to Beck, the doe’s mothering instinct is quite strong when the fawns are still young and don’t have a lot of mobility. When a person walking a dog, which the deer sees as a predator, inadvertently gets too close to a fawn the doe will display aggressive behaviour.

“They put their ears back, snort and kind of prance and paw at the ground. We encourage people to walk their dogs where we don’t have heavier concentrations of deer in the fawning period,” said Beck.

“If someone does encounter deer, give the animal their space right away, and if an attack comes their direction it would probably be a good idea to let the dog loose because the dog can travel a lot faster than a human and the aggression is actually being directed towards the dog. If it is a small dog they can try to collect it and get the heck away from the deer.”

Once the fawns have matured a bit and have better mobility, Beck said the moms wont be nearly as aggressive.

“Wildlife is unpredictable. Give them some respect and don’t get too close to it,” said Beck.