Aggressive deer

Waterton Lakes National Park

The long-term presence of deer in the Waterton community has created an artificial situation which is affecting the safety of the park's visitors and community members.

A substantial deer population lives in the community of Waterton year round, because it provides a relatively safe haven from predators and an attractive source of food.

These deer are habituated to the presence of humans and have lost their natural wariness of humans. Although the deer look cute and harmless, they can be aggressive, especially to people and dogs. 

The females (does) are of particular concern during the spring fawning season (June and early July). They aggressively defend their fawns when people, especially those walking their dogs, come anywhere near, and this aggression is escalating.

Also, this high concentration of deer in the community has led to the occasional foray of bears and cougars into the area, creating further public safety concerns.

For your safety and for the safety of the deer, maintain a good distance from the animals while watching them, and do not entice or feed them. Be particularly cautious when walking your dog!

Reporting an incident

Please report any instances of aggressive behaviour by deer, deer attacks and / or injuries due to an attack by calling 1-888-927-3367. If possible, take a picture of the animal involved.

Parks Canada is working with the community of Waterton to develop and implement a strategy to manage deer in the community. A community advisory group is assisting in this effort.

Shepherding deer

A dog handler and shepherding dogs

For five years, from 2011 to 2015, we conducted a pilot project to determine if trained dogs can help create more natural behaviour in deer.

The objective was to ensure public safety and protect wildlife, while maintaining quality wildlife viewing for visitors. 

A dog handler used shepherding dogs to gently move deer out of the community during fawning season and to rebuild the natural wariness that deer have for people and dogs.

It was determined that this program is effective at reducing conflict with people and it was continued in 2017 and 2018.

Video: Extraordinary Dog, Extraordinary Job

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