More deer will be translocated from East Kootenay communities this winter

All signs point to translocation study being successful

Many of the deer translocated last winter were released in the south country.

Last week it was announced that the province was providing  grants for urban deer control. Approximately $100,000 will be split between the communities of Cranbrook, Invermere, Elkford and Grand Forks.

Asked why there was no money for Kimberley, Mayor Don McCormick said there was, it was just included in the Cranbrook money. Those funds are earmarked for the translocation of more deer from both communities as part of the VAST Resource Solutions ongoing pilot study on the translocation of mule deer.

Other Kootenay communities are planning culls.

Grand Forks, Invermere and Elkford are planning culls in their communities; Elkford is expected to cull 50 deer, Invermere is looking at culling 51 deer, while Grand Forks is hoping to cull 80 deer.

McCormick says it’s too early to say whether there would be another cull in Kimberley, but there is no money in this year’s budget earmarked for that.

“The word cull takes on a different meaning now that we have translocation as a tool. But the pilot study is not done. More deer will be removed in January and February. When we use the term ‘cull’ it used to mean euthanizing, but now translocation is also part of cull tools.”

McCormick stresses that the pilot study, while not over, has been very successful so far. If translocation is used in the future, he says that it is expected that costs would be similar to euthanizing. An expensive part of the current study was the radio collars for some of the translocated deer. Those are not necessary once the study is complete. The deer will simply be moved and not tracked in that manner.

Deer Count Up

Kimberley’s deer count is up substantially this year.

147 mule deer were counted this past November, up from 96 in 2015. Counts are significantly up in Chapman Camp, where 35 deer were counted this year as opposed to 15 in 2015. In the two years prior to Kimberley’s cull, the counts were 210 in 2010 and 242 in 2011.

“We’re up quite a bit this year,” said Kimberley Councillor Darryl Oakley, who has been Council’s representative on the city’s urban deer committee for the past five years.

Oakley points out that the Managing For The Future document that guides Council’s decisions on urban deer in Kimberley, says that 125 is the maximum number of deer that should be in Kimberley at any time. He says that the committee will meet early in January  to discuss a recommendation for Council.

Oakley says that he, personally, would not support another cull as he believes the translocation is working.

“The translocation works. There’s been no stress related deaths. The deer carried on with their lives with no stress issues.”

However, Oakley would like to see more animals moved.

“We had around 25 deer killed by vehicles this year, otherwise the count would have been a lot higher. We probably need to remove about 30 deer per winter. With those killed by cars, that would be enough.

“We just have to figure out the costs and find the winter habitat to release them.”

Oakley says some new winter range east of Canal Flats has been identified this year.

The other issue Oakley is pondering is how to identify “problem deer”. These deer are four, five and six years old, and so habituated they have no fear and are quite aggressive, especially the does with fawns.

He uses for example a deer in Townsite he has dubbed “Cranky Ears”.

“She was just ruthless this year, chasing everybody. I’ve got a wolf and a Great Pyrenees and she just comes at me. There are probably half a dozen of those deer. We have to find a way to identify them and take them out. It can’t be done in the summer because of fawns. A cull doesn’t necessarily get those deer and they are too old, too habitualized to be moved. If we could figure out how to identify them, it would be helpful.”