June 16th, 2024

Deer can also pose a contagious disease danger

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.”

Al Barnhill


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John P Nightingale

Yes and while we are at it, let us gas all the birds (West Nile virus), coyotes and badgers (rabies), cottontail rabbits (tularaemia), racoons (distemper /dogs), cattle (BSE), chickens (salmonella), anything warm blooded (lest nasty foxes trespass too close to us humans) and how about ridding the world of poison ivy, black widow spiders, rattlesnakes etc etc?
A naive, short-sighted approach to the “wild” world. We are in their territory, something the writer seems to not understand.
Public health threats from deer???? Apart from eating a deer harbouring CWD, they pose no risk to us humans. Enjoy them and appreciate the fact that we have such wildlife within city limits.


Yes John , the river valley and area is their backyard . We just get to visit respectfully ,hopefully.
However, if the city didn’t hire to have soo many coyotes culled ,perhaps there would be a few less deer? And if you let your cat roam,that’s the chance you take that an owl,eagle or coyote won’t get it. A few less subsidized sport hunters would be great to spare the many songbirds they kill.
Deer mice carry hunta virus,I think. And geese spread beaver fever all over town and playgrounds,no? There is probably even more a person could come up with. Cats can carry a bad parasite that humans can get and we let them poop all over town as well.
I don’t know what part deer play in harbouring ticks that apparently humans can get lyme disease from.
I don’t understand why Al is going on about deer in the overall scheme of things. Why doesn’t he write about the fracking on the westside right above the oldman river?
There used to be lynx in the river valley but the government allowed trapping til the 1980’s ,I think. There was a few people licensed to trap them.
What do all the feedlots along and above our water sources pose for a health concern?
What about all the pharmaceuticals in our water?

Seth Anthony

Dear lord. What’s next? Everyone adorn themselves in bubble wrap?


Exactly Seth, what next?


Al, you must be joking, or really genocide proposed on all wide life.


Yes, phlushie , I had to read it twice to decide if Al was joking or not.


great responses!. not sure, but this could be one of a.b’s more humourous pieces. the “reasoning” presents quite a leap, one that ticks and fleas would be proud of.
given the nastiness of human activity to one another and the natural world, surely deer are among the very least of our worries? notwithstanding, they are carriers of the plague, black death, corona, whooping cough, measles, dandruff, water pollution, trump’s orange discolouration, stupidly high beef prices…and not to mention that all bambies will steal our babies’ pacifiers if we don’t keep a watchful eye….”what about the children?!!!”


Yes, biff, I agree, ” the reasoning presents quite a leap”.