By Letter to the Editor on April 30, 2020.
Open letter to: Government of Alberta – Jason Kenney, premier; Travis Toews, minister of finance; Tyler Shandro, minister of health; Jason Nixon, minister of the evironment; Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman
Re: Contagious diseases and deer relocation:
While the imminent danger and focus of public policy is currently on coronavirus-19, now is an appropriate time to be developing policies and plans for action related to other prospective contagious diseases.
To those ends, I draw your attention to the prospect of diseases transmitted by fleas, ticks and deer. Veterinarians and other natural scientists have found that fleas and ticks feed on deer. Such insects have a long history of being linked to plagues. The Black Death was caused by bacteria spread by fleas on infected rodents. The “Great Plague of London” was spread rapidly by fleas.
Since 2000, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and COVID-19 have “jumped” from animals to humans. Since deer are known to be carriers of fleas and ticks, what is to prevent another contagious disease to “jump” from deer to people?
Deer are wild animals. They are not domesticated. Not only do they attract insects, they also attract predators such as bears, coyotes, cougars, lynx and wolves
Since 2016, the Province of British Columbia has had an urban deer management program. It provides $100,000 each year to fund community-based urban deer mitigation, that is, actions to reduce the problems related to deer in their communities. Those communities range from Cranbrook and Kimberley in southeastern B.C. to Oak Bay on the Pacific Coast. Funding is granted for operational projects such as fencing to restrict deer movement or culling programs and translocation.
Why doesn’t the Province of Alberta, with Government of Canada’s co-operation and funding, relocate the deer on both sides of the Oldman River in Lethbridge to provincial and/or fenced national parks? With the ready availability of cattleliners, not only would potential public health threats be minimized but the trucking sector would be utilized and employment gained.
Albertans, Canadians and people around the world do not need more contagious diseases, widespread plagues, deaths and economic disasters. As Winston Churchill stated: “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”