The death of deer put down after impaling herself on an fence post has provided a grisly boost to a campaign for more deer-safe fencing in the capital region.
On March 1, Oak Bay Police responded to a call regarding a doe impaled on an aluminum fencepost. Police dispatched the animal and removed it from the scene.
Kelly Carson, founder of DeerSafe Victoria, an anti-cull organization, spent about a month taking photos and documenting addresses of dangerous fences she found in Oak Bay, noting quite a few that looked really dangerous.
Carson says she had intentions of tracking and recording the number of impaled deer that have been shot by police but says she’s never had those numbers. She believes there has been an “inordinate amount” of deer caught on fences within the region.
“Fencing is one thing,” says Carson. “What I was seeing in Oak Bay were these diabolical wrought iron fences meant to keep people out, I suppose, but a deer could easily get caught on them if they tried to leap over, [but the fences] aren’t high enough to dissuade the deer from jumping over them.”
Sheila Krekorian, who lives in Ontario but keeps up with DeerSafe Victoria because of the similarities of the problem in both communities despite being across the country, says she was woken up by a frantic neighbour one night. A deer had impaled itself on a nearby fence post.
“My husband and this neighbour considered trying to lift her off the fence, but she was impaled all the way through,” says Krekorian. “The spike was coming out and I could see her hind legs — underneath, she was torn from the fall or the struggle, about six to eight inches.”
Police were called to shoot the animal.
“She was making these horrible noises and I was getting so upset — I kept saying ‘shoot her, shoot her’,” says Krekorian. “It took them four shots [because] she was thrashing so much.”
The event inspired Krekorian to make some changes to her own fence. Two pieces of plywood nailed together over the fence post, create a straight beam for the deer to fall on, instead of the straight rods that could potentially lead to impalement.
Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch ran on a platform of reducing the deer population, which he says will reduce the need for tall fences meant to keep deer out. He says he’d like to get the population down to where spotting a deer is rare and not an everyday thing when people look into their back yards.
Murdoch tells Black Press the current bylaw restrictions allow fences to be six feet six inches tall with an additional 18 inches of lattice on top. Murdoch says you cannot have a solid fence, and that the bylaw encourages people to to choose fencing with spacing in between in order to have taller fences — the same kind of fencing that deer are prone to impale themselves on. Murdoch doesn’t anticipate any changes being made to Oak Bay fencing bylaws.
There are other alternatives to fencing your property to protect it from deer, says Kristy Kilpatrick, president of the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society, currently studying deer in the community. “I know of one place where they actually planted deer-friendly food along the deer trail, and beside that deer-resistant food, and then beside that they fenced.”
Kilpatrick says she would encourage municipalities thinking of revamping their fencing bylaws to consider banning spiked fencing.
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