Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

That time of year to watch out for deer

Numbers surge in and around city: official

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If you think you are seeing deer everywhere these days, you're not imagining it.

They're out and about in the midst of their breeding season, which begins approximately in mid-October and lasts until about the end of November.

"The deer are moving around quite a bit and they're a lot more visible in various parts of the city," said Brian Joynt, manager of regional wildlife operations with Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship. "You'll see some younger deer, without their mothers for the first time, so these deer might find themselves in unfamiliar areas without the leadership of older animals."

Manitoba Public Insurance spokesman Brian Smiley said November is the worst month across the province for wildlife-vehicle collisions, with about 1,600 crashes, most involving deer.

So far this year, the City of Winnipeg has received 787 calls to pick up dead deer from city roadways, a spokeswoman said. That's up from 736 in 2012, 570 in 2011 and 502 in 2010.

The most calls came from the Charleswood-Tuxedo area, with 324 calls so far this year and 253 in 2012.

Joynt said there appears to be a population growth in Winnipeg and its outlying areas.

"It's quite surprising how many little pockets of them there are," he said. "People need to know that deer are a very adaptable species and urban deer do very well. There's rarely predators in the city, there's lush vegetation and ornamental planting that are excellent food sources."

He said deer in Winnipeg seem to be more prevalent near golf courses, the Assiniboine Forest, parks and areas in the west and northwest sides of the city.

A 2012 city report stated the number of wildlife collisions reported in Manitoba had increased by 50 per cent in the past decade, with most involving deer. There hasn't been a recent study on whether the deer population has grown but areas such as Charleswood in the city and Birds Hill Park just on the outskirts are consistently areas of concern.

Feeding deer in the city can exacerbate the problem and Joynt cautioned against this practice.

Though it seems like you are helping hungry deer, you are actually creating artificial conditions that can't be maintained. It will have an adverse effect on deer population and often negatively impacts other animals in the habitat.

"Well-intentioned people will feed the deer and a lot of deer get fed unintentionally from spillage from a bird feeder," Joynt said.

"The worrisome thing about that is deer are a keystone species and artificially feeding them can cause their habitat to deteriorate to their detriment and reduce the carrying capacity of the habitat."

The carrying capacity is the number of animals an area can support with its naturally existing food supply and conditions. A keystone species is a species whose presence affects the abundance of other organisms within an ecosystem.

For example, Joynt noted artificially increased numbers of deer can cause a decrease in the population of song birds in a habitat. More deer eat more vegetation, which means fewer places for the birds to live and forage.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

 

 

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 23, 2013 A13

History

Updated on Saturday, November 23, 2013 at 7:33 AM CST: fixed pdfs

7:36 AM: fixed pdfs

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