By Steve Hubrecht
Invermere’s urban deer population is noticeably more aggressive this year, with increased calls on the issue to local conservation officers, and with one mule deer having ‘hoofed’ a woman and her dog near the Station Pub last week, injuring both the woman and the dog.
The ‘hoofing’ incident occurred on the morning of Thursday, July 2nd, and came a week or so after officials had placed a sign in the area warning of aggressive deer.
“She was walking near the Station Pub and her dog was off leash… that’s likely what provoked the deer,” Columbia Valley Wildsafe B.C. community coordinator Corinna Strauss told the Pioneer. She pointed out that although Invermere’s urban deer have lived within the district for years, they likely still instinctively view dogs as potential threats because in the wild canines are predators of deer.
The deer began ‘hoofing’ the dog, rearing up and striking the pet with its hooves.
“The woman was able to get the deer off the dog, but then the deer also bruised and injured the woman,” said Strauss. “It is quite unusual for a deer to do that to a person. Normally even urban deer demonstrate a bit of fear of humans.”
But this year is anything but normal in terms of aggressive deer, and on top of that, late spring and early summer is a particularly sensitive time of year for deer.
“This is when does are giving birth to fawns,” said Strauss. “So that amps up the aggression for the mule deer in town.”
She added there have been more reports than is typical at this time of year regarding aggressive deer, which is what prompted the warning sign to go up in the first place. The sign was placed near the Station Pub, quite close to where the woman and her dog were ‘hoofed’.
“This year there is definitely an increase in calls to the Conservation Officer Service compared with last year,” said Strauss. While she couldn’t say exactly how many calls there have been on the issue, she said it was dozens as opposed to hundreds.
To prevent aggressive encounters with urban deer, Strauss recommends giving deer plenty of space and keeping your dog on a leash. She noted that urban deer have been know to stalk off leash dogs in Invermere, something Strauss said can catch people off guard and be quite unnerving. If an incident occurs, Strauss said it’s best not to try to fight back, but instead try to get away.
To report an aggressive urban deer incident, call the Conservation Officer Service at 1 877 952 7277.