Kathy Lucas calls the forested area near Tanya Drive in Linley Valley her sanctuary in the city.
It's where she goes to walk her dogs and escape from stress.
But in recent years, Lucas has found herself stumbling upon some gruesome scenes, including deer carcasses left to rot and, last week, a pile of deer innards and blood splayed on the pavement.
Conservation officer Sgt. Ben York said there is a poaching problem in Linley Valley and Hammond Bay that has come to a head in the last five to six years, and he is concerned for people's safety. York said some of the poachers have used guns, but most of them use crossbows and other silent weapons. He said the arrows are often found in backyards or in fences. In one recent case, a crossbow arrow was found in the side of a house.
"We have a group of people that are killing deer in urban areas, which is illegal in so many ways I can barely start counting them," York said. "There's no doubt the folks that are doing it are getting bolder, and our main concern is that they're going to hurt somebody. They're already causing property damage."
York said he gets calls a couple of times each month from Nanaimo residents who, like Lucas, find "gut piles" or carcasses and report them. But, "more often than not they just throw the entire deer in their vehicle," he said, adding the Ministry of Environment has started to act on the situation.
He said most of the techniques being used to catch poachers are being kept vague so people don't catch on, but some if it involves patrol work in problem areas.
Lucas said she is concerned for the safety of people in her area, as well as her own.
"It's kind of unnerving to even take your dogs for a walk which is really sad," she said. "This person probably thinks they're doing everyone a favour (because of deer overpopulation) but what about when families go and take their kids for a walk and they see blood and guts all over the place?" York said the poaching problem is at its worst starting in October and going through to February.
He encourages anyone who sees somebody who may be poaching to call the Report All Poachers and Polluters hotline at 1-877-952-RAPP.
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