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Family calls for measures after gruesome deer death

The trauma of seeing a deer impaled on a wrought-iron fence prompted a social-media post asking what can be done to prevent such gruesome incidents.
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A deer wearing a radio collar on Beach Drive in Oak Bay in July.

The trauma of seeing a deer impaled on a wrought-iron fence prompted a social-media post asking what can be done to prevent such gruesome incidents.

A woman posted on behalf of her sister, who spotted a deer having trouble walking in her Oak Bay yard. Animal control was contacted and it was suggested that nature should take its course, the post said.

The family awoke the next morning to find the deer had died after attempting unsuccessfully to get over the fence.

“It was horrible for her children to witness the deer this way,” the post said.

As sad as the situation was, it’s not uncommon for deer in urban areas, said B.C. Conservation officer Scott Norris.

“It’s fairly regular,” he said. “But not every one ends in tragedy.

“We’ve definitely rescued a lot of those ones that are stuck.”

Oak Bay police are called about once a month to shoot an injured deer to end its suffering, after it was impaled, hit by a vehicle or hurt in some other way.

Norris said deer often become stuck when the fronts of their bodies get through a fence but not the rear. “And they can’t figure out how to go backwards and get back out.”

He said deer can also get stuck while trying to get through the space between a fence and a gate.

Deer trapped in fences are sometimes sedated so conservation officers can safely free them, Norris said. With some of the smaller ones, he said, he has been able to grasp them by the legs and gently pull them free — a task he said should be left to experts.

Norris said fence-related deer deaths are likely to continue. “You’ve got a wrought-iron fence, there’s a chance it’s going to happen to you,” he said. “That’s the way it is, unfortunately.”

He said residents who find a deer in that predicament can call police or the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (1-877-952-7277).

To discourage deer from entering yards, the Oak Bay municipal website suggests keeping pet food inside, cleaning up fallen fruit or birdseed, repairing holes in fences and using repellents and noisemakers.

The municipality, which had an estimated 100 to 120 deer in 2018, has a program where some female deer are given immunocontraceptive vaccination to slow the growth of the population.

jwbell@timescolonist.com