There have been recent reports of wildlife, specifically deer, being spotted in or near parks around the City of Humboldt. 

Tom Perry, Wildlife Biologist with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment's Fish and Wildlife Branch, explained that this is the result of winter yarding behaviour.

"Animals group up into sheltered areas to improve their chances of surviving the winter, we've actually found that research on deer fitted with GPS tracking collars, has found that animals can move many kilometres to areas that provide cover and food in the winter time."

Perry explained that every winter, animals are seeking some sort of shelter, and "Some of the hard weather that we had earlier on in the winter time might have caused animals to group up and search for more shelter." 

He said that their survey data findings don't necessarily suggest a big increase in animals in the area, as opposed to the winter concentration of animals.

Perry explained that wildlife management in urban areas is a challenge.

"It's partially because research in urban areas is finding that some people enjoy seeing deer and other wildlife in their backyards, whereas some people see urban deer as a hazard or nuisance."

He explained that the best way to limit conflict with wildlife in urban areas is to manage food attractants, which, depending on the species, can include intentional feeding, unsecured garbage or compost, pet food or even bird feeders.

"We just encourage people to respect wildlife and keep their distance at the same time," Perry shared. 

"There's a number of scare devices that can be used to deter wildlife from cities," he said, "Which can range from horn honking or artificial noise makers, and they even make motion activated, high pitched scare devices that we can't hear, but are audible to the deer. Dog barking can be an extremely effective wildlife deterrent, but it's just important to keep dogs leashed and under control around wildlife." 

Perry also provided tips for deterring wildlife in your yard.

"Fencing is the most effective and permanent method to avoid deer browsing on trees. You can surround individual plants with wire cages to prevent browsing, and it's just finding that balance with folks to respect wildlife. It's important to find responsible ways to limit these negative interactions."

He added that Saskatchewan residents can contribute to initiatives that help secure wintering wildlife habitat outside of cities, through funds like the Fish and Wildlife Development Fund.

Individuals can report encounters with any type of aggressive wildlife, or if it's deemed a public safety risk, by calling the Turn in Poachers and Polluters tip line at 1-800-667-7561.