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May is for motherhood

Jessica Campbell

Fawning season is almost upon us, when the animals, having gone forth, now multiply.

Cranbrook's urban deer herd also follow these age-old natural rhythms, despite living in the midst of us human beings. And so it's a good time to remember that the deer are still wild animals, and especially touchy during fawning season.

The population of Cranbrook's urban deer herd is around 120, according to a count conducted last fall by the City's Urban Deer Management Advisory Committee and staff from the Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations (FLRNO). Fawning season starts around the end of May and runs through to the end of June.

"It's important to know that deer aren't aggressive animals," said Chris Zettel, Corporate Communications Officer for the City of Cranbrook. "But when they have young fawns, they're very careful to protect them, as a mother should. People just need to be aware, don't be afraid, just be aware to give does and their fawns enough space."

"If people are out walking alone with pets or with strollers and you approach a doe, and the doe seems to be quite aware of your presence, it's best to leave the area as best you can," Zettel said.

"It's also important that if you have a dog with you, to have your dog on a leash. I can't stress that enough."

Generally deer will find a secluded place to have their fawns. It is also common for the does to leave their fawns hidden, and come back from time to time to nurse.

"What the Conservation Service asks of the community is that if you come across a fawn, do not touch it," Zettel said. "Fawns rely on their colour and hearing for their protection. If you touch them they can suddenly be tracked by predators or other animals."

If you have been in an incident where a deer has behaved aggressively towards you, someone you know, or attacked your pet, or has bluff-charged people or vehicles, report it immediately. You can report these incidents to the Provincial Conservation Service toll free number at 1-877-952-7277.

The City of Cranbrook keeps track of the incidents, which allows them to give information back to the mayor and council committee. You can report incidents to city hall directly at 250-426-4211 or send an e-mail to urbandeer@cranbrook.ca. Include the date and time of the incident, the address and nature of the incident, the species of deer (white tail or mule deer), female or male, and then your contact information.

Cranbrook, Kimberley and Columbian Basin Trust have partnered with WildsafeBC to create an educational program around urban wildlife. It will focus on deer in the Cranbrook area and will start around the end of June throughout the summer. The program is similar to the long-running Bear Aware program, providing information, safety tips and more. "It's something we're quite excited about and for the public to see over the next month and a half,"  Zettel said. A brochure is also available for download on the City of Cranbrook website — www.cranbrook.ca — under 'City of Cranbrook Links'.

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