Impaled deer prompts calls to fix fence in Cameron Heights neighbourhood

Residents of Edmonton's Cameron Heights neighbourhood say a metal fence in the area is putting wildlife at risk, after a deer that became impaled on it was put down over the weekend.

The southwest Edmonton neighbourhood is near the river valley, and residents say animals often come through the area.

Spencer Martin was walking in the River Pointe subdivision at about 7:15 a.m. on Saturday when he saw several deer. They ran away as he got closer — except for one.

That's when Martin noticed it was stuck on a fence.

"When I got really close to it, it sort of turned its head and looked at me as if to say, kind of, 'Help me,' " Martin said. "I felt really bad for it. Really bad."

The deer's belly was impaled on the fence, which Martin said is about four feet high and made of pickets with arrowhead-style tips.

"Anything jumping across there, landing on it, is going to get injured," he said.

Melanie Wilson

Martin wanted to free the animal by lifting it off the fence, but it was too heavy. He also thought about taking a portion of the fence apart, but the deer was kicking, so he couldn't get close enough.

Eventually, Fish and Wildlife officers assessed the animal and had a police officer put it down, Martin said.

'Purely for esthetics'

Residents said the deer wasn't the first animal to die on the fence. A moose was impaled in June 2016, Natalie Pruss-Unger told CBC News.

Some community members are calling for the fence to be altered or removed so no other animals get hurt.

"Is it going to stop a house from being broken into? No. It's there purely for esthetics," Martin said, noting the fence also poses a risk to children. "It's just going to cost ... more and more animals their lives, and that's a pity."

Cameron Heights resident Kevin Delzer said a chain-link fence would be a better option.

"Basically, they're just arrowheads," he said of the tips on the fence.

"Any developer that builds in the area, especially on a ravine, has to understand that there is wildlife in the city. And people love to see wildlife and want to preserve it. So the less chance that they get injured, the better."

He said residents are planning to send a petition to the developer, Delta Square Developments Ltd.

CBC News contacted the developer for comment but has not received a response.

'We're not happy at all'

Most wildlife issues are directed to Alberta Fish and Wildlife officers, Edmonton city spokesperson Chrystal Coleman said.

If residents want different fencing options, they should speak with their community league or city councillor, she said.

Fish and Wildlife spokesman Brendan Cox confirmed there have been two complaints about deer on the fence.

He said items on people's property, such as bird feeders, can attract wildlife to leap across the fences — though he couldn't say whether food attracted the deer over the fence in these cases.

Resident Vicky Kujundzic said she's seen two deer in seven months impaled on the fence. She also heard about the moose, she said.

Kujundzic is concerned the fence poses a danger for children who might try to climb it. She would like to see the arrows removed, or the fence replaced with one with a blunt top.

"I don't think the city should be allowing this type of fence at all, in any area," she said. "I think they should be completely banned.

"We love nature, we love all the trees in the river valley, the animals, ravine, and now we're killing them with our fences. So we're not happy at all."