Point Pelee National Park is getting $2 million to help restore its marsh. July 11, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Point Pelee National Park)

Deer population explosion at Point Pelee soon to be corrected

The growing deer population at Point Pelee National Park will be reduced beginning next week.

The park will be closed to visitors from January 9, 2020 to January 24, 2020 while the “activity” takes place by Parks Canada and the Caldwell First Nation.

Parks Canada said the deer population has grown three to four times higher than the ideal 24 to 32 deer that can be sustained. Officials said a series of mild winters with light snow cover and a lack of natural predators, such as wolves and cougars, have allowed the park’s white-tailed deer population to grow beyond what the ecosystem can handle. They issued an information bulletin on Thursday afternoon stating it’s to ensure the long-term health of the park’s sensitive ecosystems.

“Public safety is of the utmost priority to Parks Canada, therefore Point Pelee National Park will be closed to visitors during this time,” the bulletin said.

Parks Canada said high populations of white-tailed deer are a serious threat to forest and savannah health at Point Pelee National Park. Officials added the deer in the park are consuming and damaging native plants faster than they can regenerate, threatening the health of the Carolinian Forest, which is home to a number of species at risk such as the Red Mulberry Tree, Red-Headed Woodpecker, and Eastern Foxsnake. Deer are also jeopardizing efforts to restore the Lake Erie Sandspit Savannah, a globally rare ecosystem that supports 25 per cent of the species at risk in the park.

“Population reduction is reserved for situations of absolute necessity and Parks Canada has been collaborating with the Caldwell First Nation for a number of years to actively manage the deer population to protect the park’s sensitive ecosystems,” added Parks Canada.

Workers continue to improve the health of Point Pelee National Park, including planting native Carolinian species and removing invasive plants.

Visitors are asked to contact Point Pelee National Park for more information at pc.pelee.info.pc@canada.ca or call 519-322-2365.