• Deer

Urban Deer in Okotoks

Although deer aren’t considered dangerous, they can act aggressively to protect themselves or their fawns, and may see people and dogs as a threat. At this time, there are no plans to control deer populations in Okotoks. Citizens are strongly encouraged to adopt strategies to discourage deer from eating and inhabiting their yards. If Okotoks citizens can be unified in their behaviours and actions towards deer deterrent strategies, the urban deer population may remain at tolerable levels.   

Deer Encounters
What Happens When I Feed the Deer?

Feeding wildlife, especially deer, has become more common and problematic recently in some areas in Alberta. Okotoks has a significant population of deer in our area and could be subject to future problems if residents or visitors begin feeding them. Problems linked to feeding wildlife arise when animals pursue people and occasionally threaten public safety. To report illegal feeding of deer, contact Municipal Enforcement.

  • Overcrowding and increased incidence of disease in animal populations can be linked to feeding. Ticks can be passed to humans in close contact with infected animals.
  • Butting or pawing of persons by over-anxious deer has occurred in other municipalities, resulting in human injury, particularly to small children and pets
  • High populations of deer may attract predators, like cougars, into populated areas.
Halloween Pumpkins Attract Deer & Other Wildlife

Don’t leave your Halloween pumpkins outside.  Please display them indoors on a windowsill, or on an upper balcony.  When they’re left outside they become a wildlife attractant.

Avoid Deer Conflict

Although deer aren’t considered dangerous, they can act aggressively toward people and dogs to protect themselves or their fawns. As a citizen, there are a number of strategies you can use to reduce the chance of deer-human conflict.

  1. Never feed deer. Feeding deer can help deer associate people with food and they can act aggressively when hungry. Feeding deer may make deer reliant on unnatural food sources, posing challenges for deer in cold winter months when food sources are less abundant, hence increasing aggression. An aggressive deer may have to be euthanized by wildlife authorities. A fed deer is a dead deer.
  2. Deter deer from your yard by planting unpalatable species, remove bird feeders, use tree guards, rake up crab apples (or remove fruit trees altogether). If deer sleep in your yard, randomly place objects that disrupt sleeping areas, such as patio furniture. Don’t let your dog out to chase deer out of your yard as this may encourage an act of deer aggression.
  3. Give deer their space. Deer are wild animals and may act aggressively if they feel threatened. When on foot and passing by deer, change your course to give deer as much room as possible. When driving in the presence of deer, slow down to prevent a vehicle-deer accident.
  4. Keep dogs on leash. Dogs at large will often chase or scare deer which can run a deer into traffic or create deer aggression. If a deer approaches a dog on leash, back away and seek an alternate route. Don’t attach your dog leash to your person.
  5. Report aggressive deer incidents:
    1. 9-1-1 if you feel threatened or witness someone being threatened by an aggressive deer.
    2. Contact Fish & Wildlife at 403-652-8330 to report the incident.  They will determine if further action is required.
    3. Contact Town of Okotoks Parks at 403-938-8958 to have temporary signage posted in the area of the aggressive deer incident to warn others.
Avoid Deer Conflict While Walking to School

Although deer aren’t considered dangerous, they can act aggressively to protect themselves or their fawns. Children and youth should be informed on how to avoid deer conflict when walking to school.

The most important advice is to give deer their space. Deer are wild animals and may act aggressively if they feel threatened. Use the following tips to reduce the possibility of an aggressive deer encounter.

  1. Safety in numbers. Walk with others when possible.
  2. Change your path to give deer as much room as possible – this may involve crossing to the other side of the street or moving off the pathway system in a park to take a wider route around deer.
  3. If you can’t safely go around deer, back off and wait for deer to move on.
  4. Never knowingly walk between deer.  Deer may be protective over fawns or other deer and you don’t want to be perceived as a threat.
  5. Don’t chase deer. Urban deer are very used to people and may not run off leaving you too close to unafraid deer. Deer that do run off may run into traffic causing an accident.
  6. Never feed deer. Feeding deer can help deer associate people with food and they can act aggressively when hungry. An aggressive deer may have to be euthanized by wildlife authorities. A fed deer is a dead deer.

Report aggressive deer incidents to your teacher or parents. They can further determine if the incident should be reported to the appropriate authorities.

  • 9-1-1 if you feel threatened or witness someone being threatened by an aggressive deer.
  • Fish & Wildlife 403-652-8330 will determine if further action is required.
  • Town of Okotoks Parks 403-938-8958 to have temporary signage posted in the area or the aggressive deer incident to warn others.
Council Direction
Deer Count Report to Town Council

On behalf of Council and Administration, the Town of Okotoks is appreciative of the volunteers who participated in the first Okotoks Deer Count on September 15 this year.  A total of 64 volunteers, including 53 Stantec volunteers, came out to walk all the communities, parks, and river valley.

Read the Report

Deer Management Delegation Council Session - COMPLETE

Dr. Judith Samson-French, Banded Peak Veterinary Hospital and Foundation for Animal  Wellness Initiatives President, WAS IN attendance at the regular Council meeting on February 9, 2015 at 7 pm to provide a presentation to Council regarding urban deer management.  The public was encouraged to attend to hear the presentation.

Dr. Judith Samson-French, has been helping control free-roaming dogs in Canadian First Nation’s communities with an immunocontraception program.  She is also working with Sundre to eliminate a controversial feral horse cull and develop a more humane program of control.  

There are pros and cons to each of the options for control, summarized as follows:

Control Method

ProsCons
Capture & relocatePublic perception, immediate population reductionTransferring problem to another jurisdiction (likely would not be accepted by another jurisdiction).

Temporary solution as it would leave a void niche to be refilled by new deer or other wildlife.

Likely not as humane as perceived as our urban deer may not be well adapted to a more “wild” environment.

Capture & euthanizeImmediate population reductionPublic opposition to a cull. Temporary solution as it would leave a void niche to be refilled by new deer or other wildlife.
Controlled public huntingPossible population reductionIncreased risk to public safety. Citizen concern around public safety and opposition to hunting. Increased burden on administration, management and enforcement. Effectiveness of control hard to predict.
Sharpshooting by contractorPossible population reductionPublic opposition to hunting. Citizen concern around sharpshooting in public places. Effectiveness of control hard to predict.
Fertility controlHumane control method, long term effectiveness, and likely well supported by the public, potential grant funding.Relatively new method for deer control in Canada and may require up front approvals.
 
Results of the 2015 Deer Management Survey
The Town of Okotoks staff conducted a resident engagement survey regarding urban deer and residents’ experiences and attitudes towards them from April 10 – 24, 2015. The survey was promoted using various methods, including the Town’s website, the local
newspaper, social media, and at the Town’s booth at the Okotoks Chamber of Commerce trade show. The survey was predominantly completed online at Okotoks.ca.  
 
A total of 1149 survey responses were received. Of notable mention in the survey results, 85% of respondents were aware the Town has a bylaw that prohibits feeding wildlife, 88% feel safe outside in the presence of deer, and 60% are not experiencing damage to yards and gardens from deer. In addition, 82% of respondents selected their general feeling about deer to be “We share this Town with the deer and they are here to stay, we all need to make compromises to share the Town with them.” Approximately 10% of respondents expressed concerns with deer with respect to aggression, damage to yards and gardens, vehicle/deer conflicts, predators, and health concerns (related to Lyme disease and fecal matter).
 
Town Administration intends to undertake an education campaign through a variety of media to help citizens with deer deterrent strategies for yards and provide information on how to avoid conflict with deer. A deer count will be undertaken in the fall to help establish baseline population data for Okotoks.
 

Deer Survey Results

Deterring Deer from Your Property
Deer-Resistant Plants

We have identified a variety of garden plants that are deer-resistant.

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Other Deer Deterrent Strategies

Learn various deterrent strategies to help mitigate deer nuisance on your private property.

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