School board to city: deal with the deer

Erin Perkins
By Erin Perkins
January 24th, 2013

School District 51 Board of Education trustees say enough is enough when it comes to deer poop on the playing fields around Perley Elementary School, Grand Forks Secondary School and Hutton Elementary School.

Last night they voted unanimously to send a letter to the City of Grand Forks telling the deer committee to get on with their plans to deal with the city deer problem.

The school grounds appear to be a favorite hang out for the majority of the 150 plus deer who roam around the city. They often bed down in the fields, leaving behind piles of poop for maintenance crew to clean up and the kids to dodge during gym class, after school sports programs and recess.

“We’re working, Doug (Lacey) and I, on shoes off policies to bring in less and we’re trying to do everything we can but it is very difficult,” said Kevin Argue, current principal of Perley Elementary School and incoming superintendent, during the meeting.

“The shoes off thing works, to a degree,” said Lacey, current principal of Hutton Elementary School and incoming director of learning. “But the kids are taking off their athletic shoes and bringing them into the school and putting them into their lockers, plus all the soccer balls are coming in covered in feces. It’s just a never ending problem … And we’re not talking two or three deer, we’re talking dozens.”

Jeanette Hanlon, school district secretary treasurer, said she contacted the local public health nurse, who advised her there was little concern about the deer droppings causing a health issue for our children.

“We did get a response today that all animal species can contain disease, is what she said, but some reports suggest wildlife may have less than domestic animals,” said Hanlon.  “That doesn’t mean that every deer feces or every fetal pallet doesn’t have disease in it. A person would need to consume these materials to cause illness. She is encouraging us to get kids to wash their hands.”

“It’s not so much a public health threat as we are tracking it into our schools,” said trustee Cathy Riddle. “It’s still there, our kids are playing in it and nobody is going to like that.”

Fencing all those fields would be too expensive and would make the school grounds look like a prison, said Hanlon.

So the board has turned to the deer committee offering their support and asking for them to do something.

The deer committee currently has no concrete plans in place to deal with the deer, although they have been exploring several options, which include a cull with the help of local aboriginal groups.

Other schools in the district don’t seem to have the same problem as Grand Forks.