New cottage country initiative highlights the dangers of feeding deer

Doe and fawn

If you see deer frolicking on your cottage property, resist the temptation to feed the cute white-tailed animals.

This is what a new initiative from the town of Huntsville is asking of residents in order to curb dangerous interactions with urban deer.

The initiative is the brainchild of Huntsville resident Kathy Kay, who approached the town’s sustainability committee with a plea to educate both cottagers and urban dwellers on the risks of feeding deer. The town will be distributing an informational pamphlet about the issue this fall.

There are multiple reasons why feeding urban deer is problematic. Rebecca Francis, the sustainability committee coordinator, says that deer are often fed unhealthy, low-nutrient foods that don’t help with building the animals’ winter energy reserves. Furthermore, when food is readily available, deer continue to be drawn to urban areas, which can not only cause problems for motorists, but also bring harmful health effects to the animals.

“When deer gather in groups together, there is an increased risk of disease among the deer and a concern for ticks that can then bite humans,” Francis says.

Furthermore, high populations of deer also attract other predators like cougars into urban settings. 

And while the pamphlet will only be distributed in Huntsville, Muskoka isn’t the only area in Canada with an urban deer problem. Across the country, local governments are urging residents not to feed the deer. 

In Waterton, Alberta, the large population of urban deer have become so accustomed to their new environment that some have lost their natural trepidation toward humans and have grown aggressive. The deer problem in Waterton has grown so serious, in fact, that Parks Canada has recruited specially-trained border collies to herd the pesky deer out of the town and back to the wilderness.