Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Wild doe leaps fence, scares Kenora family amid call for cull

Backyard tragedy barely averted

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COURTNEY van Aertselaer and her two pre-schoolers will never look at the film Bambi the same way again after a doe jumped a two-metre fence at their Kenora home, charged up the deck at her daughter and trampled their dog.

"They're dangerous, wild animals," said van Aertselaer, who snatched one-year-old Trinity out of harm's way just in time.

On Wednesday afternoon, her daughter and son Sam, 3, were in their fenced backyard. Trinity was on the deck and Sam was running around the yard when he came inside.

"I was in the kitchen and I saw a deer run past like it was spooked. I didn't think much of it," she said. A minute later, it jumped the fence and was inside their yard, coming up the steps of their deck. Trinity let out a scream.

"It was ready to attack my daughter. It was a full-sized doe," van Aertselaer said.

Their miniature pinscher, Chloe, barked at the doe and was trampled.

"My son had come in two minutes before," she said. "He was running around the backyard. It could've been so much worse."

The dog was the only one injured, said van Aertselaer after returning from the vet.

"She has severe bruising on her back leg," she said. "She did a good job of defending us," said the woman whose family moved to Kenora from Winnipeg in January.

There was nothing on the deck to attract the deer --- no dog food to entice the animal to come so close to the terrified humans, she said.

She reported the incident to Kenora's animal control department, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the police.

"They said, 'It's that time of year, you have to be careful'," she said.

There is a petition circulating in Kenora calling for a cull of the growing deer population, but she had not signed it. The deer seemed harmless and beautiful as they roamed the streets of Kenora, she said.

"They're not. They're wild animals and unpredictable."

After Wednesday's deer scare, she's thinking a cull might not be a bad idea and plans to sign the petition.

"Right now, it's nobody's problem. Nobody's doing anything."

The local Ontario Provincial Police detachment did not respond to a request for comment. Mayor Dave Canfield said he hopes people in Kenora will learn from her story and take it as a warning.

"These are not pets, they're wild animals," said Canfield. "A lot of people don't realize that." Many residents feed the deer -- a bylaw violation, just like they fed the bears in Kenora a few years ago until they got out of hand.

"People think it's great to feed them? No, it's a good way to die. They're wild animals."

Kenora does have a "tremendous" urban deer problem that it is trying to solve, Canfield said.

"We are working with the Ministry of Natural Resource on some type of plan to reduce the population within city limits," he said.

That may be allowing a "controlled hunt" with bows in the rural areas of Kenora, he said.

"People love the Disney version of wild animals but it's not realistic -- especially at this time of the year when they're having fawns and they're unpredictable."

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 3, 2011 A11

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