Since its traffic-stopping arrival in mid-July, a number of photos and videos have emerged on social media of the same fawn wandering through the park’s trees and paths. A photo taken earlier today showed the fawn standing on the seawall next to an unsuspecting fisherman while a video uploaded to YouTube over the weekend captured park goers petting the animal.
According to Dan Straker, the Urban Wildlife Programs Coordinator for the Stanley Park Ecology Society, the animal may have swam across the First Narrows of Burrard Inlet. Video published by CBC News on July 21, the same day the deer made its first encounter with Vancouverites, shows a deer swimming from the North Shore to the park.
“This deer is a male black-tailed deer, a common coastal subspecies of the more common Mule Deer, born probably just a few months ago in late May or early June,” Straker told Vancity Buzz today.
“Not sure why it would have left the North Shore but it is not uncommon for parents to kick the young out if the habitat can’t sustain them. [It’s] possible it also get separated from the parents.”
When asked whether there is a place for deer populations in Stanley Park, Straker noted that the park is a relatively small area and lacks the necessary predators to keep the species’ population numbers in check.
“Large ungulates when in a big volume can have big impacts on ecosystems, browsing on young plants, tree buds of the year, which can seriously detriment their growth,” he said. “This is why having large predators in ecosystems are very important to keep ungulates like this at a certain population and constantly on the move, but people aren’t fond of having large predators in cities.”
Coyotes in the wild regions of North America are known to hunt deer in packs, but Stanley Park’s coyotes are more specialized to hunt small rodents, which accounts for at least 75 per cent of their diet.
For this reason, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service is exploring ways to tranquilize and relocate the animal to a more suitable habitat when there is a safe opportunity to do so.
But in the meantime, anyone who encounters the fawn should give it as much as space possible and appreciate it from a distance: it is a wild animal and could potentially act in unpredictable and harmful ways to protect itself. There are also concerns that people have been feeding the animal.
“Please don’t feed it. This is the worst thing that can happen for the safety of the deer and people as the deer needs to learn to find its own food rather than depend on people,” Straker added. “This deer is very used to people already and even approaching people for food.”
Deer encounters at Stanley Park can be reported to the Ministry of Environment at 1-877-952-7277.