The BC Conservation Service is making a plea to the public after “poorly designed” iron fences continue to kill deer in the Kelowna area.
In the last week, two deer in the Central Okanagan were euthanized after becoming severely injured on wrought iron fences.
According to the conservation service, a mule deer doe was impaled by pointed pickets rising above a wrought iron fence in the Tuscany Lane area of Kelowna, on Dec. 26. Four days later, another doe was entangled in a double-top railed wrought iron fence, in the Carrington Road area of West Kelowna.
On average about 20 deer are injured and killed in this way every year in the Central Okanagan.
“Conservation officers want to remind the public that some fences can be very dangerous to deer and other wildlife… These fences can cause animals pain and suffering as they struggle to free themselves and in many cases die stuck on the fence,” said Kelowna conservation officer, Ken Owens.
He said this not unique to the Central Okanagan; it is also happening in other communities around B.C., especially from mid-December to mid-April.
Owens explained there are two primary fence designs that pose a threat to wildlife; wrought iron fences with pointed pickets above the top rail, and wrought iron fences with top rails spaced less than 12 inches apart.
In Kelowna, wrought iron fences with pointed pickets rising above a horizontal rail are illegal, banned by a City of Kelowna bylaw.
Owens applauded this bylaw.
“It’s a step in the right direction and we’re hopeful other communities and regional districts experiencing similar issues within the province will follow Kelowna’s lead in better co-existing with wildlife,” he said.
The height of a fence on a deer range, he said, should not exceed 42 inches. Additionally, the space between the two top horizontal rails should be a minimum of 10 inches apart. Those with iron wrought fences are advised to protect the spikes and/or double top rail.
“Whitetails and mule deer draw their legs under their bodies as they leap a fence. If one or both hind legs fail to clear the top rail, the legs may catch between the top two rails as the deer continues over the fence. The deer’s hind leg gets entangled by the lower portion of the leg or legs, resulting in serious injury and often death,” said Owens.
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