Conservation officers are asking the public to clean up debris in yards frequented by deer after two officers rescued one hobbled by a jerry can cap.
“He couldn’t move the joint, ” said Sgt. Mike Newton of the B.C. Conservation Officers Service. “It had worn all the hide off.”
The CO Service had been alerted to a black tailed deer’s plight by a homeowner on Forbidden Plateau Road west of Courtenay last week. By the time they arrived the deer had left. They left a message with the residents to let them know if it returns. Knowing that deer frequent their favourite spots, Newton said they suspected it would return.
Sure enough, it did and the officers were able to tranquilize the animal and inspect what the problem was. That’s when the discovered gas can lid around its hind ankle. Plastic gas can lids have a removable portion on top that allows a funnel to be passed through the threaded cap which is then screwed back on the jerry can to enable pouring. That removable portion had fallen out and the deer had stepped into the threaded cap, which had worked its way up to the ankle.
“It was on tight,” Newton said. “I couldn’t slide it off.”
Using a hacksaw, they were able to cut it off. Because the animal had been favouring the leg for so long, the deer had not been able to wear down the hoof and it had grown like a human’s untrimmed toenail. Luckily, the wound was not infected but Newton applied some polysporin on it and gave the animal the antidote to the tranquilizer. Once the anaesthetic was neutralized, the animal hopped up and bounded away showing no ill effects from the tranquilizer or the gas cap.
Newton was pleased to see such a quick recovery.
“She just jumped up,” Newton said. “It felt good.”
In order to prevent this kind of injury to deer, Newton asks that homeowners just “ensure that your yard is free of debris.”
Another frequent danger to deer unwittingly created by homeowners is the use of commercial fish netting to protect their gardens. It’s cheap and easy to use but deer, especially at this time of year, get tangled up in it very easily. During the rut males like to rub scent glands on objects to mark their territory and they frequently do it against garden structures that have fish netting attached. The deer’s antlers get tangled up in the netting as they swish their heads back and forth and before long, they’re tangled up and trapped.
Newton figures they respond to half a dozen tangled deer calls each year.
“We respond to a lot of these calls,” Newton said.
COs prefer gardeners use rigid fencing material to protect their garden beds. It’s harder to get tangled up in it.
He hopes people will just give some thought to the material in their yards and think through what potential hazard it could pose deer.
“That would be greatly appreciated,” he said.