Image via Flickr user mariehale.
In 2011, Thunder Bay police reported that on average, deer were struck by cars approximately 1.6 times per-day. When you consider the damage that deer can do to a car and the people in them (I was once told a story in North Bay about a guy who got decapitated when he hit a deer, after its antlers came through his windshield), 1.6 collisions per day in a town of 110,000 is a lot of potential tragedy, auto-insurance, or venison—depending on how you look at it.
Besides the collisions, deer can just be a real pain in the ass. They eat through people’s gardens carrying ticks that give people lime disease; they attract wolves and other predators that might attack babies, family pets, or garbage cans. They shit all over the place, and there’s no end to the damage they can do to farmer’s crops that might be planted in, or on the boundaries of, a city’s limits.
To deal with the nuisance and probable perils of urban deer overpopulations, the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario, along with the towns of Hampton, Quispamsis, and Rothesay in New Brunswick’s Kennebecasis Valley, just north of St. John, have proposed an intrepid idea to curb the cloven-hooved critters. They plan on expanding the fall deer hunt’s boundaries not further into the outskirts—but moving it into more populated areas, where deer are actually causing the most problems and effectively creating semi-urban hunting grounds.
With a new policy and bylaw that addresses the “problems and health risks involved resulting from the increased number of deer within the city limits” the city of Thunder Bay released its Deer Management Strategy, which allows permitted and licensed hunters, between September 1st and December 15th, to hunt deer on private property within the city of Thunder Bay.
In New Brunswick, The Kennebecas is plan is similar, and offers 200 special deer permits for hunters to kill one doe each within the valley. Normally, hunters would only be permitted one deer per season, so this by-law doubles their harvest. There’s also a big difference between Kennebecasis and Thunder Bay’s law; In Kennebecasis, hunters can still gun down their deer, while urban hunting within the city limits of Thunder Bay is limited to a bow and arrow.
Even with these changes, as this map of T-Bay illustrates, hunters and huntresses aren’t going to be running through downtown back alleyways, chasing stags. The urban hunting by-laws do have some restrictions. For example, archers still have to shoot from stands that are at least a few metres high, and can’t be posting up anywhere within 75 metres of a highway or residence, lest someone mistakenly get caught up in some kind of Sherwood Forest drive-by.
While the sanctions are measured, logical, and actually sound kind of fun, there are always going to be some detractors. Who else but PETA decided to try and rally 60,000 Canadian members this week, resulting in 6,000 spam emails that all had the same copy and pasted message, directed to three New Brunswick Councillors who were none too impressed.
Through a national lens, considering that last week there was a bear in downtown Calgary, Rob Ford is squealing about raccoons in Toronto (which, fucking eh, Rob, we finally agree, can we start squashing these masked gang-members with shovels? Remember this dude who almost went to jail for it?), quelling urban pests through seasonal culls isn’t a bad idea.