Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Tragic Tale of the Dock Side Deer

A small herd of five deer (three bucks and two does) have been living on the unused land that is awaiting another phase of the Dock Side Green development in Vic West. They eke out a living among the condominiums and the industry on the Gorge, keeping to themselves and avoiding cars when they cross Tyee or Bay Street to slip between the plastic-lined chain link fence. Behind that fence they have found sanctuary. Waving grasses and blackberries, and probably best of all, privacy, due to the security fence and the warning signs that read “These premises protected by video surveillance.”

A difficult exsistence, to be sure. But they are a young herd, and they have never known life in a forest. They are what are currently termed “urban wildlife.” A designation that acknowledges their exsistence, but in no way assures them of a right to life.

On May 23, 2014 some residents in a highrise overlooking the Dock Side site emailed DeerSafe to advise us that they had been watching a new fawn. Well hidden by her mother during the day, the little one was very active whenever the doe was present. Bouncing with youthful exuberance she would follow her mother, at times daring to stray a few yards to examine something new. Always, obediently, staying for hours where her mother put her while the doe left to forage during the day.

Her safe place became unsafe on May 27. A gravel company came to the site and began to move the piles of rocks and gravel. One resident approached the workers to advise them that a fawn was in the area, and pointed to the place were the young animal was hidden. The workers said they were aware of the fawn and they would be working in an area opposite to her. One worker “joked” that “he could always shoot it.” The next day they moved the rocks and gravel on to that very spot.

The highrise across from the site affords residents a panoramic view of the Dock Side Green site. Within hours of the gravel having been moved the doe was noticed, looking agitated. The fawn has not been seen for 48 hours.

Tonight I found the doe grazing on the Gorge side of the site. When she turned away from me I saw that her teats are painfully swollen.

The burgeoning developments in our region are inviting an ever growing human population, and with them come ever more roads and loss of natural environments. Lofty ideals of ecologically sound development, such as Dock Side Green, cannot be possible without a contigency plan that protects the indigenous residents of the area. One tiny fawn no longer scampers among the grasses at the Dock Side Green site. For many of us, her life was noticed. For her mother, her life will be sorely missed.

Dock Side Green has been contacted in writing and in person. The name of the gravel company they subcontracted is not currently known. 

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