Human-wildlife conflict – Deer

Because of suburban development and enhancement of urban green areas, there is an increased risk of human-deer conflict in Alberta.

About Deer

  • Increasing development of suburbs and enhancement of green areas within urban areas have resulted in increased risk of human conflicts with deer.
  • Within urban areas, deer have enough habitat to provide them with cover for safety and trees and shrubs to browse for food.
  • Deer have few natural predators within urban areas.

Threat to people

  • Deer are normally timid and quick to flee when people come near. However, deer can become surprisingly aggressive in protecting themselves and their young.
  • Always keep your distance from any wildlife. If it appears that the deer will not run away as you approach, walk around the deer – giving it a lot of space – or back away and find another route to your destination.
  • Never approach fawns that have been temporarily left alone by their mothers. Their mothers will return, and if they see that you are too close to the fawn, they may attack.

What to do about the deer on your property

  • If a deer has found its way into your backyard, it can find its way out. Bring your children and pets into the house to minimize the stress on the visiting deer and wait for it to leave.
  • Do not let your dog bark at or antagonize the deer. This can further stress the deer and lead to aggressive, self-defensive behaviours.
  • Never feed deer. Deer can feed themselves, and leaving out salt blocks to attract deer may also attract the larger carnivores that prey on deer.
  • Remove all food sources that may attract a deer, such as fallen apples and bird seed spilled from bird feeders.
  • If you wish to prevent the deer from feeding on your landscaping, there are a number of things you can do:
    • Home remedies: hanging out bars of heavily scented soap or nylon bags of human hair may work until the deer become used to the scent.
    • Commercial repellents: products can be purchased that are applied directly to the plants which repel the deer by either adding a foul smell or taste. Always follow the manufacturer's directions. Be aware that when there is an increase in deer numbers or a decrease in alternative food sources, deer will continue to eat treated plants.
    • Fencing: a deer-proof fence should stand at least 2.4 m (8 feet) high, be ground tight and made of durable wire mesh. Electric fencing is also an option.
    • Deer-resistant landscaping: though hungry deer will feed on nearly any type of vegetation, planting ornamental trees, shrubs and flowers that are not as attractive to deer is one way to preserve your landscaping efforts. Check with your local gardening centre to find out which deer-resistant plants will grow best in your area.
    • Commercial scaring devices: devices that produce a siren-like sound can be found in hardware or garden supply stores. These devices can successfully deter deer and other wildlife from damaging plants and trees, provided you begin using them before the wildlife becomes used to the food source.

Reduce the risk of vehicle collisions with deer

  • Collisions between vehicles and deer increase in areas with higher deer populations. These collisions can be very destructive to vehicles and each year result in human fatalities.
  • Although collisions may occur at any time of the year, drivers should be aware that the risk of a collision increases during the periods of October to November and April to May.
  • Pay attention to all wildlife warning signs and drive accordingly.
  • Reduce speed at dusk, night and dawn, especially on unfamiliar roads near water or lined with trees.
  • Scan the road and ditches ahead for animals, especially when travelling at dawn or dusk.
  • Slow down in a curve, when reaching the crest of a hill or in wildlife-populated areas.
  • Use high beams whenever possible. Deer's eyes will glow when they catch light.
  • Remember, at night-time, lights from oncoming traffic can make it difficult to see an animal on the road.
  • Look for more than one animal – some species travel in groups.
  • Brake firmly if an animal is in the vehicle's path. Avoid swerving.
  • Honk in a series of short bursts to encourage animals to move out of the way.
  • Leave plenty of room when driving around an animal on or near a road – a frightened animal may run in any direction.

If you hit a deer

  • Contact a Fish and Wildlife officer if the deer appears to be injured but alert, or causing a hazard on a highway.
  • To have roadkill removed, contact the highway maintenance contractor responsible for that area or the nearest regional office of Infrastructure and Transportation by calling 310-0000.
  • Fish and Wildlife does not pay for repairs or offer compensation for damage done to vehicles in wildlife collisions. Check with your insurance provider for coverage information.


Download in-depth information from The Handbook: Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage, published by the University of Nebraska:


Connect with a Fish and Wildlife office near you:

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