Deer deterrence takes more than a shot in the dark

It seems inevitable that in most situations involving interactions of wild animals and human society, the latter’s sense of proportion quickly gets lost and its sense of superiority and entitlement is displayed in all its self-absorbed nastiness. I speak of the current hysteria about ‘vicious deer’: in my lighter moments, I’m reminded of Monty Python’s classic ‘killer rabbit’ sketch.

It seems inevitable that in most situations involving interactions of wild animals and human society, the latter’s sense of proportion quickly gets lost and its sense of superiority and entitlement is displayed in all its self-absorbed nastiness. I speak of the current hysteria about ‘vicious deer’: in my lighter moments, I’m reminded of Monty Python’s classic ‘killer rabbit’ sketch.

A few suggestions from a naturalist, not a biologist, who would appreciate some common sense applied to the situation, for the deer’s sake as much as for humans.

Stop pretending that council members, and most members of the public, know much, if anything, about this matter, and pass it on to people versed in deer, and human, behaviour and how these can be employed to change the situation

In line with the staff’s sensible suggestion, set up a committee to look into various ways to improve our interactions with wildlife in the city, but make sure that biologists and others with direct experience of deer behaviour are on the committee and taken seriously.

Have programs of deterrence looked into such as the Vancouver one for preventing unpleasant human-coyote interactions

Meanwhile, tell people to get a grip and if a deer approaches them with an evil gleam in its eye: shout, wave your arms, charge it if you’re able, pick up a stick and brandish it, etc. In short, make it clear to the deer that you’re dangerous. Even with actual predators (including humans) such behaviour can be quite successful. Now that fawning season is over too, the main reason for such so-called aggressive behaviour of does is gone anyway. When humans defend their young, we call them heroes, but that’s another topic.

Aside from the wild west attitude displayed, the killing Coun. Pearce advocates (Western News, Aug. 5) I suspect would be futile. The adage that nature abhors a vacuum would very likely apply, and when habitat safe from the deer’s wild predators and with excellent food supply became vacant, other deer would quickly fill it.

Mr. Pearce is quite right that the wild predators are in short supply, thanks to human decimation of their populations and habitat, but the solution is not to try to take over that very complex role. I suggest that a much more effective, long-term approach would be to institute a program of deterrence in the form of making life uncomfortable and scary for deer in the city (see the Vancouver coyote program). Much as I love to see wild creatures come through my rural area, I do whatever I can to make my immediate home unwelcome to those for whom such contact would be detrimental to us both.

Eva Durance

 

Penticton