Urban life is unnatural for region’s deer population

Letter to the editor on the role deer play in urban, natural environments

I have been reading the articles and letters about urban deer, particularly about how they should or should not die.  Even the euthanasia of “Buck Rogers” who was dying a natural death at Rogers elementary, was a subject of some controversy, to the extent that the school children were misled about the outcome. An educational opportunity was thus lost.

In the wild, deer always expect a painful death to be waiting just around the corner, either from predators’ fangs or from starvation when they become overpopulated. It seems that many people have lost their connection with nature to such an extent that they believe that deer have a right to an idyllic, stress-free life with no fear of predation or pain or death.

In search of this happy life, deer have migrated from rural to urban areas, where they are a nuisance and a danger to people and pets, while abandoning their natural habitat where they might be hunted by humans or animal predators. Indeed, some hunters have reported a marked absence of deer in rural areas, although they see them regularly in their backyards.

Not surprisingly, cougars have now followed deer into the city – we have had several confirmed sightings recently in Saanich. The authorities must take these sightings very seriously, due to the real threat to human safety.  I fear the consequences of their presence, both for the danger to children and for the likelihood that cougars will be killed, either as a response to or in prevention of attacks on humans and their pets.

Indeed, we may have no choice but to kill urban cougars, who will have lost their fear of humans and may discover that humans and domestic animals are easier prey than urban deer. All of these problems, as well as car-deer collisions, destruction of gardens and deer attacks on people walking their dogs, follow directly from the tolerance of deer in cities.

We must cull urban deer. though I am not a supporter of bolt gun killing. There must be a better way to cull them and restore their healthy fear of humans. Only then will they find city life less attractive and behave like wild deer.

Catherine Culley