Lisa Gervais: It’s a no-brainer
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | March 9, 2017|
We ask readers to have a look at Jeannine Espie’s letter in today’s Highlander. Espie is an Eagle Lake-area homeowner who works for Vasey Insurance Brokers Ltd.
Her letter addresses local OPP concerns over motor vehicle-animal collisions. There were 162 in 2016, the majority deer. The detachment has identified this as a real issue. OPP head Richard Riopelle told a chamber breakfast meeting earlier this year that police are working with stakeholders and one solution is more deer warning signs along roads.
Espie disagrees. She says the problem is deer are crossing roads because locals are feeding them. It’s happening where she lives. Being in insurance, she sees the financial repercussions of these crashes, with people having to pay deductibles and insurance companies the balance. Small wonder deductibles climbed last year, she points out.
She also talks about how you would feel if you were feeding deer and responsible for someone hitting one.
There are kind-hearted folks in the county. With the amount of snow this winter, they’ve been worried about the deer finding enough food. Others feed deer because they like to watch them on their property. While their intentions may be good, the fact is feeding deer is not a good idea. Ever.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is pretty clear about this.
In a chat with The Highlander around this time last year, they answered some key questions for us.
They told us feeding deer isn’t illegal but they frown upon it. And, it’s only municipalities that have the ability to implement bylaws prohibiting feeding.
The MNRF told us that feeding can affect the normal behavior and pattern of deer movement. It can cause them to concentrate in areas around feeding stations, instead of migrating to natural deer yarding areas. There are a number of concerns with this change in behavior, including the potential for disease transmission, attracting predators, digestive issues and increased vehicle collisions when feeding occurs close to roads.
If you have been feeding deer up to now, you shouldn’t just stop. You’ve artificially increased the animals’ metabolic rate. Plus their digestive systems have adjusted to the artificial feed.
But, starting next winter, don’t do it.
If you really want to help the deer, then tramp down heavy snow so they can get to their natural yarding areas. Another thing you can do is keep your dog from running at large and harassing the deer.
As for the OPP, they should note Espie’s concerns about the need to stop feeding. Perhaps it means lobbying municipalities to implement and enforce bylaws. The OPP would also do well to ensure a representative from the insurance industry is one of the stakeholders at the table as it tackles the issue.
To us, it’s a no-brainer. Don’t feed deer and there will be fewer collisions in our area.
Lisa Gervais is the editor for The Highlander.