The B.C. government is assessing what to do with Vancouver’s famous Downtown Deer now that the animal has become too friendly for its own good.
The Ministry of Environment said the deer has clearly become habituated to humans, and the Conservation Officer Service is looking into whether it should be relocated from its new home in Stanley Park.
“An officer’s been assigned to take a look and get all the facts and variables,” Sgt. Todd Hunter said in a statement. “Our hope is that the deer would have moved off on its own accord. It hasn’t, so that’s why we’re going to step up.”
The deer swam over from the North Shore about a month ago and quickly became a social media star after wandering into Vancouver’s downtown core.
It’s been living in the park ever since, where tourists and visitors have been filmed and photographed petting and feeding it – contributing to a habituation process officials warn could lead the animal to an early death.
“The animal becomes more and more fearless,” said Patricia Thomson of the Stanley Park Ecology Society.
“We know that people like to be close to wildlife, we understand that, but it’s not the best thing for the animals at all.”
Officials warn the more comfortable the deer gets, the more likely it is to wander onto roads where it could get struck and killed, or into a populated area where it could be chased by dogs.
It’s already been seen crossing the busy Stanley Park causeway.
Thomson said the Ecology Society is working with the province to determine how to proceed, but it’s clear the deer would be better off elsewhere.
Moving the animal, which was originally believed to be female but is actually male, could be complicated, however, because of its age and small size.
“Tranquilization, should that be required, is often the demise of the animal, so it’s not the route anyone wants to go,” Thomson said.
The Ministry of Environment also said the deer could become dangerous during its mating season, which runs from late October to late November.
The situation is still being assessed and no decisions have been made.
Vancouver’s “Downtown Deer” licks a woman’s hand in a video that was uploaded to YouTube on Aug. 23, 2015.