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COLUMN: At least deer can’t reach roof

A deer eating your flowers pales in comparison to a raccoon ripping shingles off your roof.
Deer on trail
Deer can be spotted all over Okotoks, including along the river trail.

Being a recent arrival in Okotoks, let’s just say I’m still in the honeymoon phase when it comes to the town’s deer population. 

When my wife and I visited for the first time in mid-April, we were amazed to see these wild animals roaming freely, finding it so curious that we stopped to take photos to share with equally bemused family and friends. We were awed to see them not just in parks and natural areas, but wandering through residential neighbourhoods like they owned the place; we even spied two munching on a tree out front of the Lakeview Inns & Suites just steps from the busiest street in town. 

Since moving here, we’ve continued to enjoy the sight of deer, and are disappointed anytime we come up empty during our nightly dog walks along the river trails. We’ve become a bit more discriminating when it comes to pulling out our phones, but we’re still apt to snap a shot if the circumstances are right. 

To this point, the closest brush we’ve had is to find one resting under a big tree in our front yard, which scampered off as soon as we got close. In other words, we haven’t had any negative interactions, so our view of this wildlife phenomenon might well be different from those whose flowers, bushes, trees and lawns haven’t escaped unscathed from their run-ins with our deer population. 

In my short time here, I’ve already heard several stories of deer damage, so I suspect there could come a time when I view Bambi and Co. with the same disdain I had for raccoons when I was living in Greater Vancouver.  

Initially it was a novelty to see one or more of these furry bandits scurrying around, their eyes often illuminated by our car’s headlights or, when they got a little too close for comfort, by our home’s security lights. The industrious creatures morphed from curiosity into nuisance when they would tear apart unsecured garbage, but even then, I could tolerate the occasional reminder to be more vigilant when it came to ensuring can lids were tight. 

It was when they started ripping up the cedar shingles to gain access to the attic, apparently in an effort to nest, that they became colossal pains in the butt. Awoken several times by rustling on the roof, we’d rush outside, lean a ladder against the house and turn on the hose to drive them off, but even that didn’t always do the trick as the defiant little buggers would sometimes carry on until I finally had to get up on the roof (which was a rancher, by the way). 

Eventually it took bringing in a pest control expert, who trimmed and wrapped adjacent trees and installed spike mats on the raccoons’ landing spot on the roof, before we were rid of them for good, knowing full well we were simply sending them on their way to become an irritant for some unsuspecting neighbour, 

I’m crossing my fingers the deer don’t become so problematic, but I don’t think it will be an issue because as well as they jump, I just can’t envision them reaching the roof of my two-storey. 

Ted Murphy

About the Author: Ted Murphy

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