Town of Waterton Enlists Dogs to Fend Off Aggressive Deer

By: Mike Willand
|
6/7/2011
| Comments

Last week we brought you the terrifying story of a woman who had to rescue her daughter from almost being trampled by a female whitetail deer. In sticking with that theme, we give you yet another Canadian Province with more angry deer - this time in Alberta. Maybe the Provincial government should think about higher bag limits?

Waterton Park, Alberta, is a quaint little town on the outskirts of the 195 square-miles of Waterton Lakes National Park. The town is considered a tourist hot spot, boasting campsites, cabin rentals, and a variety of restaurants all surrounded by spectacular mountain views.

Besides its seemingly endless supply of outdoor recreation, the town is also famous for its docile herd of mountain sheep and mule deer, which can regularly be seen walking without fear down Main Street.

Recently, however, something’s gone amiss, it seems the over prevalent mule deer have grown more ornery. At times even, attacking dogs and stalking area residents.

mule deer in velvet head and neck shot

Mule deer in Waterton Park, Alberta, are stalking the good townsfolk.

“One lady got hypothermia pretty badly because she got chased into the lake. She was elderly and she just grabbed her little dog and backed into the lake,” said Barb Johnston, an ecosystems scientist with Parks Canada in a recent Vancouver Sun interview.

To alleviate some of the resident and tourist fears of attacking wildlife, the park staff - get this – last year began marking aggressive deer with colored paintballs. Repeating aggressive deer (ones with multiple paintball wounds) were supposed to be removed entirely from the park. To our surprise, as I’m sure to those who cleverly thought up this plan, it failed. Those deer that were singled out usually came back to the park.
 
“It’s females without fawns and even young males… and there’s no natural reason they should be doing that,” said Johnston. “Rather, aggressiveness has become a learned behavior.”

“I think they just think its fun.”

Johnston believes that the deer have grown far too accustomed to the countless encounters with humans who feed the animals in hopes of catching a few close camera shots of the normally reclusive animals. The deer have simply lost their fear in Waterton Park it seems.

To warn people of the danger that can occur from the sometimes hostile mule deer, Johnston ordered four signs depicting a human being attacked by a standing deer, wielding its hooves in anger. Three of those signs were quickly stolen.

deer attacking human sign

Four of the above signs were placed throughout town, depicting a hoove wielding deer attacking a human. Three of them have already been stolen.

Johnston and the town’s latest plan are to utilize working border collies which chase the deer out of town up to four times a day - a plan that has been used successfully on elk in Banff National Park. Just a few weeks in and it seems to already be working.

Johnston, along with town officials, are committed to the use of non-lethal force to drive away the mule deer.

We’re not sure of how to respond to this story here at the Hunting Network. While it is likely the dogs will work for some time, it’s also unlikely that they will work forever. Sooner or later you have to make the decision to take a few of them out and bring to an end the feeding by the tourists. It’s of our opinion that sooner or later someone is likely to get hurt, if not by a deer then perhaps by a predator (like a mountain lion) which is sure to come looking for a healthy plate of food. Mule deer, feeding on a few choice human sammiches, sound delicious.

What do you think the townsfolk of Waterton Park should do to control these assaulting mule deer? Please log into our Bowhunting.Com facebook page and tell us what you think.

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1 Comment on "Town of Waterton Enlists Dogs to Fend Off Aggressive Deer"

Re: Town of Waterton Enlists Dogs to Fend Off Aggressive Deer

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Posted by waterton glacier national park on 3/18/2013 6:51:33 AM

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