The trial will focus on removing some females from the urban deer herd.

The trial will focus on removing some females from the urban deer herd.

East Kootenay deer translocation study about to begin

Bait stations will be set up to attract deer for translocation out of town

Residents of Kimberley have become familiar with the bylaw prohibiting the feeding of deer within the city and evidence suggests that it has worked. Far fewer people are feeding deer than there were four or five years ago.

However, if you come across bait stations with hay in some local green spaces in the next week or so, do not be alarmed — no one is breaking the law.

The temporary bait stations are part of the translocation trial project, which is about to begin in the East Kootenay.

Kimberley City Council adjusted the feeding bylaw this week to allow for the bait stations in this one case.

The translocation trial project will be conducted by VAST Resource Solutions and Ministry biologists and veterinarians.  Female deer (does) will be captured by tranquilizer darts or in non-collapsible Clover traps.  The mule deer will be transported to winter ranges in the East Kootenays where mule deer populations are in decline.

The City has contributed $10,000 towards the East Kootenay Urban Deer Translocation Trial Project, partnering with the District of Elkford, the District of Invermere, and the City of Cranbrook, Upper Kootenay Ecosystem Enhancement Program, BC Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resources, Animal Alliance of Canada, and local wildlife clubs who have also contributed funding.  Of the mule deer captured, 28 does will be fitted with GPS collars between the 4 communities.  The GPS collars will report the does location twice per day, and the study will determine mortality rates, distance travelled, and home ranges.

Sites selected for darting are larger green spaces away from private property. The City asks you to avoid these areas if you come across them, especially while walking dogs. The public can expect to see field crews with low-velocity dart guns in these areas while capture work is in progress.  In order to reduce the stress on the captured deer, the City requests that the public avoid altogether the deer and the translocation crew.

“The issues associated with urban deer are not going to go away” states Mayor Don McCormick. “Municipalities have limited options for dealing with these issues, and translocation seems to be one option that is supported by all interest groups. If successful, translocation will offer far more flexibility than a cull and be a welcome addition to our toolkit.”

City Council received a year-end report from the Urban Deer Committee this week, which outlines what has worked and the way forward in dealing with deer in the community. See more on that report in the Bulletin next week.