Deer cull key issue at Union of B.C. Municipalities meeting


Summary

 Oh, deer, what can the matter be?

It’s an explosive issue, as deer suddenly have lost their fear of humans and have been attacking pets and even people in rural B.C.

Cranbrook is the first B.C. community to receive provincial approval to cull problem deer in its downtown area, and Kimberley and other B.C. towns are lining up for the right to curb the huge increase in the deer population.

It’s an emotional issue, and one that civic officials from across the province will tackle Tuesday at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

Story continues below

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“At the end of the day, it’s public safety,” said Cranbrook Mayor Scott Manjak, who said the city intends to put down ‘15 to 25 problem deer’ that pose a threat. “These are wild animals.

“Our rural deer population is exploding.

“Kimberley is working through the same process, and Grand Forks, Invermere and Sparwood are looking at it, too.”

The thought of deer being shot is repulsive to many, but Manjak said public attitudes changed in part when a Kimberley woman was hospitalized after a deer attack in June.

“We did a community survey, and we got over 1,100 responses, which is amazing,” said Manjak.

The mayor said the “majority” support the cull, but admitted “certainly there are people who don’t support the direction that we’re going.”

Kimberley officials are trying a three-pronged strategy – they’ve applied to cull up to 100 problem deer, but are weighing two other optionsj. They’re looking at relocating the deer out of town, and also bringing in border collies to keep the nuisance deer out of the community during the two dangerous periods of the year for deer – spring fawning season, when mothers aggressively defend their young, and fall rutting season, when amped-up males will sometimes charge unexpectedly.

“We have more problem deer than Cranbrook,” said Al Mulholland, the city’s chief administrative officer. “We’re trying to limit the human-deer contact.

“We’ve applied to bring in border collies in the spring when the mothers are protecting their young, to keep them out of town.

“The collies have been effective keeping deer out of Waterton and elk out of Banff.”

Mulholland said the benefit of the temporary relocation is that during tourist season visitors still are enchanted by urban deer, which don’t pose a threat at that time of year..

“The tourists come to town, and they want to take photos with the deer.”

Kimberley’s other plan would see the deer relocated to fertile Crown land about 20 km out of town, and hope they don’t return.

“There’s lot of grass and vegetation there – we hope they’ll like it.”

Oak Bay Mayor Christopher Coulson will moderate a UBCM discussion Tuesday entitled, ‘Management of Urban Wildlife’.

“They’re scaring people, and there is going to be loss of life,” said Coulson, who said deer are a multi- community issue on the island – fearless animals travel from one community to another. “We’re going to look at how a community can deal with it, and how a community in a region can do it.”

Coulson said deer are losing their fear of humans, and predators are disappearing.

“If a cougar comes into the capital regions, it’s surrounded, caught, and shot,” said Coulson. “So the deer have no natural predators.

“Their natural predators are a danger to humans, and now the deer are a danger to humans.”

Rebecca Gindin-Clark, of the animal-rights group Liberation B.C. said shooting the deer is not the answer.

“Killing the current population is not going to solve the problem – other deer will just move in,” she said. “We’ve created a habitat that is very attractive.

“If we get caught in this trap, we’re going to be caught in a cycle of destruction.

“It’s not a long-term solution.”

B.C. cabinet minister Blair Lekstrom – the province must approve any proposed deer culls – admits it’s a contentious issue.

“It’s a difficult one,” said the transportation minister, who’s attending the UBCM this week. “If you’re looking to cull a deer, you have to first ask, ‘Are there other options out there?’

“Let’s explore all the other options.

“If we are going to go through with it, let’s make sure we make the best of it – you can use the meat, you can feed people who are hungry.”


 Oh, deer, what can the matter be?

It’s an explosive issue, as deer suddenly have lost their fear of humans and have been attacking pets and even people in rural B.C.

Cranbrook is the first B.C. community to receive provincial approval to cull problem deer in its downtown area, and Kimberley and other B.C. towns are lining up for the right to curb the huge increase in the deer population.

It’s an emotional issue, and one that civic officials from across the province will tackle Tuesday at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

Story continues below

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“At the end of the day, it’s public safety,” said Cranbrook Mayor Scott Manjak, who said the city intends to put down ‘15 to 25 problem deer’ that pose a threat. “These are wild animals.

“Our rural deer population is exploding.

“Kimberley is working through the same process, and Grand Forks, Invermere and Sparwood are looking at it, too.”

The thought of deer being shot is repulsive to many, but Manjak said public attitudes changed in part when a Kimberley woman was hospitalized after a deer attack in June.

“We did a community survey, and we got over 1,100 responses, which is amazing,” said Manjak.

The mayor said the “majority” support the cull, but admitted “certainly there are people who don’t support the direction that we’re going.”

Kimberley officials are trying a three-pronged strategy – they’ve applied to cull up to 100 problem deer, but are weighing two other optionsj. They’re looking at relocating the deer out of town, and also bringing in border collies to keep the nuisance deer out of the community during the two dangerous periods of the year for deer – spring fawning season, when mothers aggressively defend their young, and fall rutting season, when amped-up males will sometimes charge unexpectedly.

“We have more problem deer than Cranbrook,” said Al Mulholland, the city’s chief administrative officer. “We’re trying to limit the human-deer contact.

“We’ve applied to bring in border collies in the spring when the mothers are protecting their young, to keep them out of town.

“The collies have been effective keeping deer out of Waterton and elk out of Banff.”

Mulholland said the benefit of the temporary relocation is that during tourist season visitors still are enchanted by urban deer, which don’t pose a threat at that time of year..

“The tourists come to town, and they want to take photos with the deer.”

Kimberley’s other plan would see the deer relocated to fertile Crown land about 20 km out of town, and hope they don’t return.

“There’s lot of grass and vegetation there – we hope they’ll like it.”

Oak Bay Mayor Christopher Coulson will moderate a UBCM discussion Tuesday entitled, ‘Management of Urban Wildlife’.

“They’re scaring people, and there is going to be loss of life,” said Coulson, who said deer are a multi- community issue on the island – fearless animals travel from one community to another. “We’re going to look at how a community can deal with it, and how a community in a region can do it.”

Coulson said deer are losing their fear of humans, and predators are disappearing.

“If a cougar comes into the capital regions, it’s surrounded, caught, and shot,” said Coulson. “So the deer have no natural predators.

“Their natural predators are a danger to humans, and now the deer are a danger to humans.”

Rebecca Gindin-Clark, of the animal-rights group Liberation B.C. said shooting the deer is not the answer.

“Killing the current population is not going to solve the problem – other deer will just move in,” she said. “We’ve created a habitat that is very attractive.

“If we get caught in this trap, we’re going to be caught in a cycle of destruction.

“It’s not a long-term solution.”

B.C. cabinet minister Blair Lekstrom – the province must approve any proposed deer culls – admits it’s a contentious issue.

“It’s a difficult one,” said the transportation minister, who’s attending the UBCM this week. “If you’re looking to cull a deer, you have to first ask, ‘Are there other options out there?’

“Let’s explore all the other options.

“If we are going to go through with it, let’s make sure we make the best of it – you can use the meat, you can feed people who are hungry.”