The Kimberley Urban Deer Committee has written a report on last May’s one-day hazing, or aversive conditioning, trial and submitted it to Council and provincial wildlife biologist Irene Teske, who will pass it on to her superiors.
Council received the report at their regular meeting on Monday evening.
The report concludes that aversive conditioning has worked with elk in Banff and Jasper and is in its second year of use on mule deer in Waterton Lakes, and would be useful to modify mule deer behaviour in Kimberley, although it would not function as population control of the herd.
“Basically the trial wasn’t to see how to move deer out but to demonstrate how the handler handles the dogs and the dogs interact with deer,” Oakley told Council.
The report notes that the deer were “minimally stressed” by the dogs and that the dogs responded instantly when called back by handlers
The report ends with a request from the City of Kimberley that the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations support the amendment of the BC Wildlife Act to provide a mechanism to issue a permit for aversive conditioning as part of ongoing urban ungulate management efforts.
“It is only one piece of a comprehensive plan,” Oakley said. “And it remains to be seen if it can be afforded by taxpayers. It could be used in parts of Kimberley along with other strategies.”
“I like the act that the emphasis is on a comprehensive approach, instead of searching for a silver bullet” said Coun. Don McCormick. “The message from the deer committee has been consistent and I appreciate that.”
Oakley said that aversive conditioning would not work everywhere in Kimberley as there must be Crown land adjoining where the deer can be moved. Marysville is ideal, other places in Kimberley would not work.
“It’s a constant process. The deer are pressured in the middle of town and they learn over time they are safer out of town. Whether it fits with our budget realities remains to be seen.
Coun. Kent Goodwin said the next question was how the City could use the technique.
“We have limited resources to deal with deer. If we put dollars into hazing, we have less for culling. Figuring out an overall strategy is important.”
Goodwin also said that with predators being attracted by deer, moving them to the fringes of town where many people recreate doesn’t really deal with the predator problem.