The discovery of two deer suffering from arrow-related injuries has police concerned a poacher is firing a high-powered crossbow in urban Saanich.
A resident found the first animal dead in their yard in the 2400-block of Alpine Cres. near Ten Mile Point last Friday (Jan. 18). When Saanich pound officers attended, they found the deer had entry and exit arrow wounds in its lower abdomen.
“That wouldn’t have been an immediate kill. It probably ran off and suffered a slow and painful death,” said Peter Pauwels, a conservation officer with the provincial Conservation Officer Service.
Conservation officers located the second deer in Ten Mile Point on Tuesday morning, alive and walking around with a crossbow bolt sticking out of its head.
Saanich police Sgt. Steve Eassie says area residents reported to police multiple times in the last few weeks that a deer was walking around with an arrow in its head. Police and the conservation officers were unable to locate that animal until Tuesday morning.
The deer was ultimately contained and killed by conservation officers.
“Any time there’s an incident of urban poaching, it’s obviously very much a concern,” Eassie said. “It does pose a real large threat to the public.”
Saanich police have dealt with a rash of deer poaching incidents in recent years. There were nine known instances in the fall of 2010, four in the fall of 2011 and at least two last year. In these incidents, people found animals with arrow wounds or with heads and limbs cut off, as well as reports of seeing living deer walking around with arrows sticking out of their bodies.
Of concern to police is the heightened risk to public safety. With the deer found dead on Jan. 18, the arrow was shot with such force it flew straight through the large animal.
“It is entirely possible that there is an arrow or a bolt out there. It could be in someone’s yard. It is very concerning for us because that (arrow) could’ve injured someone in the neighbourhood where this was fired,” Eassie said.
The two animals have been turned over to the conservation service for investigation.
“We’ve looked at the animals and determined the cause of death, which was pretty obvious. But there’s not a whole lot we can do at this point,” Pauwels said. “In this type of situation we’re really dependant on tips from the public.”
Pauwels says it’s likely, given the manner of death and where the animals were found, the same person or people are responsible for both deer shootings.
While police acknowledge that the poacher or poachers are likely firing arrows inconspicuously at night, they are asking the public to be on the lookout for anyone suspicious in your neighbourhood. If there is a concern, call police.
Police are also asking anyone with information on any of these poaching incidents to call 250-475-4321. Tips can also be phoned in to the Conservation Officer Service, at 1-877-952-7277.