The North Okanagan’s most photographed deer has been euthanized.
A mule deer in Coldstream that clearly showed it was not afraid of human contact was put down by officials Sunday.
Conservation officer service officials euthanized the deer in consultation with B.C.’s wildlife veterinarian.
“The deer was hand-raised and very habituated to humans, which made it a high risk for unpredictable behaviour,” said the ministry of environment in an e-mail to The Morning Star.
“The deer’s behaviour was escalating due to the arrival of the breeding season.”
Wildlife managers, also in consultation with the provincial veterinarian, did not support relocating the deer or putting it in captive care, as its extreme habituation presented a risk to the residents of the community or any person near the animal.
Kidston Elementary School principal Kathy Wickum confirmed that the deer had contact with a student’s clothing while on the playground, and had visited the school on a number of occasions.
“Wildlife on any school playground is a concern,” said Wickum.
The ministry said relocating deer is rarely humane.
“There is extremely low survival of deer for a variety of physiological, behavioural and habit reasons,” said the ministry in its release. “It is a common species that is rarely needed for captive collections.
“Integrating an animal with this behaviour into a captive herd would be an extreme challenge and may not be possible.”
Many photos have surfaced of people having their picture taken with the animal, including one picture that upset the conservation officer service.
“We saw a picture where someone had walked up to the deer and put sunglasses and a hat on it,” said Sgt. Josh Lockwood of the North Okanagan conservation officers service. “How degrading is that to the animal?”
A video of the deer being friendly with a young man at Sovereign Park on Kal Lake was posted on YouTube and had nearly 14,000 hits.
The ministry advises residents not to approach or feed wildlife.
“When wildlife become habituated to people and/or conditioned to feeding on human food sources, they eventually become a risk to public safety and property,” said the release.
All human-wildlife conflicts can be reported to the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line toll-free at 1 877 952-7277 (RAPP), or visit the RAPP website at: www.rapp.bc.ca.