Anything but a cull

Anti-cull groups make recommendations to Kimberley City Council

With urban deer, and the potential for another, smaller, cull  under discussion, Council heard from two different groups who pleaded for different, non-lethal, means of deer management.

Speaking to Council were Liz White, Director of the Animal Alliance out of Toronto and spokesperson for the BC Deer Protection Coalition; and Colleen Bailey, spokesperson for Humane Treatment of Urban Wildlife, a group that began in Cranbrook and has joined with the BC Deer Protection Coalition.

The two brought a number of recommendations to Council, the first being the request that Council adopt a non-lethal deer management program for 2013.

Others included:

• Review best practices for counting urban deer and develop a protocol for those counts.

• Implement a hazing program with measurable goals.

• Consider spot hazing/aversion techniques where there are persistent conflict complaints.

• Develop a complaints assessment procedure designed to evaluate human/deer conflicts in order to determine the seriousness of each complaint.

• Continue to implement the no feeding bylaw.

• Develop a comprehensive education program.

White told Council that she appreciated that Kimberley was going down the road of some of the recommendations.

“We are grateful for that,” she said. “But it’s difficult to measure what kind of approach is working when they are mixed up.”

As reported to Council the same evening, deer counts in Kimberley are down to 50 per cent of what they were prior to the first cull of 100 mule deer.

A report from the Urban Deer Committee says that could be due to a number of factors — the cull, but also the fact that not as many people are feeding deer in Kimberley and more,  and big snow winter last year causing more natural mortality.

This was White’s point, what did cause the drop in numbers?

“Last year you had the cull and the no feeding bylaw. It’s difficult to tell what was most effective,” she said.

“Kimberley has a cutting edge deer feeding bylaw. It’s quite a remarkable thing. You should be proud of it.”

White said that with the population down to half what it was, now was the time to try non-lethal methods instead of a cull.

“Take this year to try hazing,” she said. “Hazing has been done under different types of circumstances and we don’t really know how well it worked.”

The Urban Deer Committee will be taking a look at hazing in the coming months and White says she is supportive of that. She also said that it may be possible for her group to partner with the City on a hazing experiment, meaning supplying some funding.

She also said that the City could take a better look at complaints that do come in.

“What are serious complaints? What are not so serious? What are different complaints altogether?”

White is of the opinion that culling does not work. She points to Cranbrook’s cull.

“Examination of the deer population in Cranbrook suggests that culling has been a monumental failure. In 2010 the deer population numbered 92 (averaged over three counts) In December 20122, 25 deer were culled and in 2012 an additional 55 deer were killed by the COs for other reasons such as injury from cars ad illegal bow hunting. So after a year where 80 deer were removed from the population, the count in early 2013 numbered 97.”

White also said that while Cranbrook has a no feeding bylaw, it does not appear to be enforced, and its ‘educational’ material has negative language such as “aggressive deer”.

“In short, most of the management consists of culling.”

In tomorrow’s Bulletin, Colleen Bailey’s presentation to Council.