Animal Alliance of Canada is one of the project partners in the upcoming recently announced mule deer relocation trial.
A trial project to translocate urban mule deer from four communities in the East Kootenay will begin later this winter. Mule deer will be live-captured in Elkford, Cranbrook, Kimberley and Invermere, and transported to winter range areas in the East Kootenay where natural non-urban mule deer populations have been in decline for several years.
Liz White, executive director of the organization, said they are looking forward to the project.
“As you know, we’ve been part of opposing the deer culls that occurred in Elkford, Kimberley, Cranbrook, Invermere… over the last few years,” White said, adding that when the government decided they would look at non-lethal alternatives, Animal Alliance agreed to participate.
“So that’s what we’re doing in hopes that municipalities will begin looking at a variety of different non-lethal alternatives that I think will begin to help kind of deal with specific issues that culling clearly does not,” she said. “There are animals that they say are a problem, but there’s no guarantee that those animals are the ones being killed in the traps. It calls into question the efficacy of the culling.”
White hopes the government will get on board with the alternative methods, as it is up to it to change the provincial regulations to allow alternatives to culling.
White said that the government agreeing to participate in the relocation pilot is a good indication that the government may be opening up to the idea.
“This is a program that requires engagement by government officials in terms of allowing use of effects on deer that would not ordinarily be allowed, like using drugs on them to tranquilize them and that kind of thing,” she said, adding the provincial veterinarian also has to be involved.
Animal Alliance is assisting in the purchase of radio collars for the relocation study.
The collars will allow for the relocated to be monitored. That will allow the whole thing to be evaluated.
White said it has been quite difficult dealing with the government on these issues in the past.
“There has been over a period of time, resistance to alternatives,” she said, noting that Kimberley had applied a number of years ago to try hazing and got permission for a one-off trial. White said hazing has to happen in a much more planned and coordinated way to work effectively. She added it needs to be combined with other techniques, such as not allowing people to feed deer.
“Most municipalities, Kimberley being the exception, have a bylaw but don’t enforce it,” she said.
White also said that killing the deer doesn’t solve the issue of urban deer.
“If you look at the numbers, I think they’ve had four culls and really the number of mule deer they’ve counted has not gone down substantially,” she said. “It just doesn’t work.”
She noted Animal Alliance was disappointed that Cranbrook proceeded with a cull earlier in 2015.
White said she will be coming to the area to observe the relocation.
“It’s a whole coordinated thing and a whole bunch of people who haven’t really got along very well together in the past are all kind of working together, it’s kind of nice,” she said.