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White tail deer (Essdras M Suarez/The Boston Globe)
White tail deer (Essdras M Suarez/The Boston Globe)

Wildlife

Deer, woman faceoff in Victoria Add to ...

An early morning stroll turned into a harrowing experience for a Greater Victoria woman when she was attacked by a deer just metres from her suburban home Tuesday, the second deer-on-human attack in B.C. this month.

Barb Sharp, a 65-year-old Saanich resident, was heading out for a walk with her faithful mixed-breed mutt Norton around 7:30 a.m. when she saw a doe with three fawns standing in middle of her residential cul-de-sac, 30 metres from the foot of her driveway.

Ms. Sharp knew trouble was afoot as soon as she locked eyes with the animal.

"She was staring me down. She was mad. She was actually snorting and pawing her hoof on the pavement," she said. "Then she just started coming at me."

Alarmed, Ms. Sharp stepped aside, let the deer run past and scurried up the far side of the street, expecting the doe to trot harmlessly away.

Instead, it turned and chased Ms. Sharp about 50 metres up the block as she and Norton dashed behind trees and shrubs in neighbouring yards trying to fend off the attack.

"I couldn't believe this was happening right in front of my house, on my street. It's a good thing I had my runners because if I fell she would have stomped me," said Ms. Sharp. "She was dead serious."

Ms. Sharp and her leashed companion took refuge behind a truck parked in a neighbour's yard, but the deer refused to back off, resulting in a bizarre standoff.

"We were on one side of the truck and the deer was on the other. If we moved around the back, she'd cut us off, if we moved around the front, she'd cut us off," she said. "It wasn't just a couple of times, this went on for a few minutes."

The agitated deer finally bolted when a neighbour drove past and urged Ms. Sharp to jump in the vehicle. Norton, who had wriggled free of his leash, took off in hot pursuit of the deer.

"We heard him yelping and crying, so we figure he got kicked," she said. "He's a little sore today, but he doesn't have any broken bones or anything."

Earlier this month, a newspaper carrier in Cranbrook suffered a black eye and a cut on his chin requiring eight stitches after an angry doe head-butted him as he was cutting through a hedge.

And in June, a doe in Cranbrook viciously attacked and nearly killed a dog on a residential street. Captured on video and posted on YouTube, the incident has been viewed more than two million times.

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While anecdotal reports may suggest B.C.'s urban deer population is on the rise, hard data to support that theory are hard to find.

However, a recent Environment Ministry report acknowledges that some B.C. communities are "experiencing increased conflict" with deer that inhabit urban areas, although the report has no numbers to support that assertion.

Derek Rees, a pound inspector with the Municipality of Saanich, said his department receives about 1,000 deer-related calls each year, the "vast majority" related to deer that have been injured or killed by speeding cars.

Saanich has received "three or four calls" this year regarding aggressive deer, none as serious this week's incident.

"It's always involving somebody walking their dog and always involving a doe with fawns," he said. "People need to remember, even though they're urban deer, they're still wild animals and they're acting on instinct."

Ms. Sharp said it's time the municipality considered thinning the herd.

"They have to do something or someone is going to get killed," Ms. Sharp said Thursday, still visibly shaken by the incident. "I worry about the kids on this street."

Saanich police Sergeant Dean Jantzen said authorities are looking for a white-tailed deer with a tan coat and three fawns.

"There's actually quite a few that match that description," he said.

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