Deer in B.C.'s Interior still getting tangled up near residential areas

A stag with garden netting draping from his antlers was spotted last Friday in the Lower Sahali neighbourhood of Kamloops, B.C. (Sally Cornies - image credit)
A stag with garden netting draping from his antlers was spotted last Friday in the Lower Sahali neighbourhood of Kamloops, B.C. (Sally Cornies - image credit)

A Kamloops, B.C., buck with garden netting on his head is the latest in a list of Interior deer that have been inadvertently decorating themselves over the last few years.

Sally Cornies, who lives in the city's Lower Sahali neighbourhood, says she's noticed the male deer wandering around her home yard from time to time, but last Friday, she found his head draped in pink and green mesh.

"[It] looks like garden netting or Christmas decorations," Cornies said. "It was all through his antlers, and it was dangling down beside him and underneath him."

Over the past several years, Rudolphs with tangled-up antlers have been making an appearance in and around several B.C. Interior municipalities.

One of the earliest is a Prince Rupert deer spotted in 2017 who earned the monitor Hammy for the purple hammock on his head. Hammy became a celebrity in the North Coast community of 12,000 people and wound up with a Facebook group where residents shared their sightings.

David MacKenzie
David MacKenzie

More recently, in November 2020, residents in Invermere in southeastern B.C. found a mule deer with holiday lights on his antlers. The animal was later freed from his tangled-up state with the help of local conservation officers.

Cornies says it's a source of amusement for some but not for her.

"When he [Kamloops deer] tried to walk, he would step on it and stop — it was just the saddest thing to see."

Sally Cornies
Sally Cornies

Notify conservation officers of entangled deer

Last November, the B.C. SPCA warned the public against leaving any Halloween or Christmas decorations outside near wilderness areas from mid-October to December, the mating season for deer. It said bucks may get tangled in the decorations when rubbing their antlers on trees or the ground.

The animal welfare organization asked people who spot an entangled deer to call conservation officers, who may be able to help sedate and free the animal.

Cornies says she immediately called the B.C. Conservation Officer Service for help, but the officer in charge says it's best to leave the deer alone for now, given that it's in a residential neighbourhood where it could become startled by efforts to help it and get injured running away.

WildsafeBC program co-ordinator Vanessa Isnardy agrees, advising residents not to try to help it either.

"You could easily get gored by the antlers or damaged by their very sharp hooves," she told host Shelley Joyce on CBC's Daybreak Kamloops.

"The deer would like to be free of the entanglement, but it doesn't realize that we're there trying to help it."

The Conservation Officer Service urges anyone seeing an entangled deer to call its hotline at 1-877-952-7277 for assistance.