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Deer shot after being found with crossbow bolt in its leg

A deer had to be shot by Victoria police Friday morning after it was found with a crossbow bolt in its leg, illustrating the sometimes harsh reality faced by the animals in an urban environment.
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Urban deer face a sometimes harsh reality, including being hit by cars.

A deer had to be shot by Victoria police Friday morning after it was found with a crossbow bolt in its leg, illustrating the sometimes harsh reality faced by the animals in an urban environment.

Police were called to Bryden Court in Esquimalt about 8 a.m. after the animal was discovered, said Victoria police Const. Matt Rutherford.

He said the bolt was in a joint of one of the deer’s hind legs.

“The deer was limping and in obvious distress,” Rutherford said. “So due to the nature of the injury and the likelihood of continued suffering of the deer, the deer was put down by officers.”

He said neighbours were warned before any shots were fired.

The bolt was seized and police are looking for anyone who might have seen the deer being targeted.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, who estimated the Esquimalt deer population at well over 100, said use of a crossbow in an urban setting is unacceptable.

“No one can condone that.”

Putting down injured deer and other animals is a task Victoria police face from time to time, Rutherford said.

In Oak Bay, about 40 deer are found dead each year — many of them hit by vehicles and others impaled on fences.

When Oak Bay police had to put down a deer that had become impaled on an aluminum fence in March, Deputy Chief Ray Bernoties said officers encounter similar incidents every few months.

Rockland resident Caroline Barde said she is seeing more and more injured deer, and is particularly upset by the recent sighting of a three-legged deer in the area. She said she has also spotted deer with damaged hooves and other injuries.

The three-legged deer she saw was only a yearling, Barde said.

“He looks like he’s starving to death, even though he was grazing,” she said. “It was pretty sad.”

Barde said she suspects the deer was hit by a vehicle.

Oak Bay has plans for a deer birth-control program this summer using an immunocontraceptive vaccine, something a number of local politicians would like to see become a region-wide effort.

Desjardins, whose municipality is also working on an immunocontraceptive program for deer, wants the problem tackled regionally, an idea she said is gaining support.

“Right now, we’re getting together signatures from as many mayors as possible and it seems to be going really well.”

Once the signatures are in place, Desjardins said, a letter will be sent to Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Minister Doug Donaldson “to say you need to help us speed up this process to fund a program for deer management in urban areas.”

The letter should be ready by September, she said.

Anyone with information about the crossbow incident in Esquimalt is asked to call Victoria police at 250-995-7654.

jwbell@timescolonist.com