Another deer dies, impaled on iron fence in Cameron Heights

Residents in Cameron Heights are upset over the inaction of a developer to fix the spiked fence that's become a death bed for local wildlife.

Third deer to die on ornamental fence since 2018

Residents of Cameron Heights have criticized the community's developer for installing a spiked fence which has led to the deaths of some Alberta wildlife. (Alexandra Lischuk)

Alexandra Lischuk was out walking in the Cameron Heights neighbourhood with her mother last Wednesday when they noticed a deer. 

Coyotes in the area spooked the animal, she thinks. 

The deer ran off and tried to jump over a wrought-iron fence but got caught on the pointed spikes, Lischuk told CBC News in a phone interview Friday. 

Lischuk and her mother witnessed a frightful and tragic scene as the animal slowly died on the stake. 

"The entire time the deer was suffering quite a bit," she said. "It was absolutely terrifying to watch — and to listen to." 

Wildlife can become impaled on the decorative spikes sticking up above the top rails of wrought-iron fences, says BC Conservation Service (Melanie Wilson / CBC)

Feeling helpless, Lischuk posted the incident on the community Facebook group as it was unfolding.

Mike Wieschorster saw the post and drove to the scene to help. 

"It was crazy, it was horrible," he told CBC News. "The deer was just screaming." 

Wieschorster said they tried to lift the deer off the stake, but it was too heavy to move. 

Lischuk contacted Fish and Wildlife. Officers arrived about an hour later and put the animal out of its suffering. 

The fence stretches the perimeter of the ravine and throughout the community of about 750 homes. 

Lischuk said she assumed a solution to the fence was in the works. 

"I'm shocked that the fence was even approved in the first place."

Three-year fight

Melanie Wilson has lived in Cameron Heights for eight years and since the ornamental fence went up three years ago, she's been fighting to get it fixed. 

"We've already had three deer and a moose that have been impaled on this fence ⁠— the suffering is really quite gruesome."

Wilson said the community is distraught.

"People have seen the photos, people have seen the remains, people have seen the blood still lying on the ground," she said in a phone interview Friday. "It's tough for everyone to see this, to see the deer suffering." 

They've tried to contact Delta Square Developments Ltd., which still owns vacant properties on the site. 

She said they've never heard back from the developer. 

"We've contacted the developer numerous, numerous times and had zero response." 

Delta Square did not respond to CBC's request for comment Friday. 

City stepping in

Last December, Wilson said residents got a letter from the city explaining that it planned to retrofit the fence to make it safer. 

No residents would have to pay, the letter added.

On Friday, city spokesperson Karen Burgess told CBC News that they received permission from 24 of 36 affected homeowners to go ahead with the work. 

The city is encouraging the remaining 12 homeowners who haven't responded to contact the city if they want to have their fences included in the retrofit work, Burgess added. 

The city will order the materials needed for the project "so that it no longer poses a danger to wildlife in the adjacent environmental reserve."

However, the city is still waiting for the developer, who did not submit an approval to retrofit the portion of the fence on its property. 

The city sent a letter in Dec. 2019 asking residents for permission to work on private properties to retrofit the fence. (City of Edmonton)

Sarah Hamilton, city councillor for the area, has worked with the city since 2018 when a deer died in the same way in November that year.

'This is profoundly tragic, in my opinion," Hamilton said of the recent death. 

And she's disappointed that the developer hasn't stepped up. 

"It's unacceptable, frankly," she said. "People are mad about it in the neighbourhood, I think people across Edmonton will be mad about this and I"m mad about it." 

City administration is looking at a suite of tools available to the city to deal with the developer, Hamilton said. 

Wilson said residents have talked about changing the fence themselves, but are afraid they'd be charged with trespassing. 

"We're hoping that the city will go ahead and do what they can, and go after the developer later if they have to, just to make us feel safer in our community." 



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