A couple of deer laid tracks through downtown Chilliwack Monday morning, surprising several residents along the way.
They popped up in Betty Cockriell’s garden at Henderson Avenue and College Street, sauntering around without any apprehension at all.
“I almost got to touch it,” she said. “They were very young deer and they came between our two trailers. I was standing at the back and I’ll be darned if she didn’t come. I was so close I could have petted her.”
Of course, as much as she was tempted, Cockriell said she knew better and let the deer have its space.
“But she showed no fear, no apprehension.”
This is the third time they’ve noticed deer in the neighbourhood over the past six months, after almost 11 years of never seeing them in the area.
“They’re very quiet,” she said. “They didn’t make any noise at all, if we didn’t see them we wouldn’t even know they were here.”
The last time they noticed deer in the neighbourhood, they ended up calling the conservation officer. The deer in that case was corralled and tranquilized, to be moved to a less urban location.
But this time, the deer were left to wander through town.
“I wish they would stay where they were safe,” Cockriell said. “Unfortunately it looks like they aren’t going to.”
Because while she loves it when the deer eat the morning glory that’s taken over her yard, there are many potential dangers for deer in the city.
“One of my neighbours here was trying to slow traffic down in the morning, when people were driving by,” she said. Of course, nobody expects that a couple of young deer will be wandering onto city streets.
“It would be very traumatic for anyone (to hit a deer), but I guess there’s nothing anybody can do,” she said. “For some reason, they want to go across town.”
There are about 8,000 vehicle collisions with deer in B.C. every year. But it’s also important to try to deter deer from urban areas, says WildSafe BC. Because once deer move into a neighbourhood, it’s difficult to remove them. And they do more harm than trampling garden beds and decimating rose bushes. They can be dangerous to family pets, even killing dogs and cats they see as threats. They also attract predatory animals of their own into urban neighourhoods, including cougars.
WildSafe BC warns people to be cautious around deer and to never approach them.
Deer may lay their ears back and lower their head before attacking. If attacked, try to stay upright, cover your head with your arms and find shelter.
To discourage deer, use species that are less attractive to deer, install fencing, cover shrubs and trees in the winter, scare them away with motion activated sprinklers or lights, and chase them off your property, without injuring them. If you have fruit trees, collect fruit often.
Deer that are no longer afraid of pets or people should be reported to the conservation officer, by calling 1-877-952-7277.