This deer was casually seen munching lawns in Chilliwack last Thursday.

Deer near downtown Chilliwack a rare sight

A wildlife official could only guess why a deer might end up near downtown Chilliwack, but fairly large urban populations are not unusual.

The rare sight of a deer near downtown Chilliwack was reported last Thursday, as it casually munched on a resident’s lawn in the Ashwell-Spadina area.

Why a deer would suddenly show up in Chilliwack was a mystery to Jeff Morgan, urban deer specialist with the environment ministry’s fish and wildlife branch.

“Certainly, deer are no strangers to urban environments,” he said, and there are “fairly large populations seen in many southern BC communities.”

And from the deer’s behaviour, he said, this one likely moved from one of those communities to Chilliwack.

“It sounds to me as though this deer has had quite a bit of experience around people.”

Morgan said urban areas are “productive habitat” for deer, offering ample opportunity for feed and forage — and they’re predator-free.

In fact, deer populations have grown so large in some B.C. communities that controversial “culls” have taken place to reduce conflicts with human residents.

A ministry report in 2010 found that deer in B.C. were damaging gardens, colliding with cars, and sometimes acting “aggressively” toward humans.

The aggression can take the form of “snorting, standing on hind legs and flailing with front legs, charging, and charging with contact.”

City animal control officials pass wildlife complaints to provincial conservation officers, but the Chilliwack-area officer could not be reached for comment.