A familiar sight in Kootenay communities in June; a new born fawn in a yard. Trevor Crawley file

A familiar sight in Kootenay communities in June; a new born fawn in a yard. Trevor Crawley file

Kimberley City Council frustrated with lack of provincial action on urban deer issue

Kimberley City Council held a fairly brief regular meeting on Monday, June 13, 2022, but it did involve a discussion by a council somewhat frustrated with lack of provincial action on urban deer.

It is currently fawning season, and reports of people’s encounters with aggressive deer sparked a Notice of Motion from Coun. Darryl Oakley to educate people fully on who exactly is responsible for urban deer. And that is the province. Oakley suggested putting the appropriate Ministry phone numbers in a very visible spot in Kimberley.

While there was some discussion as to what the most effective way to get the information out there was — whether utilizing the banner that hangs across Wallinger Ave., social and local media; and/or the digital sign in front of the Civic Centre — Council was in agreement that something had to be done.

Oakley said he was bringing it up for several reasons. Despite the fact that the city has put huge effort into trying to deal with its deer population for the past 11 years or so, deer are ultimately the responsibility of the province, and he believes it’s more than time for that message to be stressed.

People need to know who to contact if they have an issue with deer, he said, not just the RAPP line.

“It’s a safety issue,” he said. “The work the city has done over the past years has been unprecedented, but we have been forced into a corner. Our hands are tied when it comes to ungulate management. It’s time for the province to step up.”

Coun. Jason McBain agreed. He said there needs to be a sense of urgency from the province because the potential for something awful to happen is there.

He related that he himself has an issue with an aggressive doe in his yard.

“Last night there was a newborn fawn under our front door. There was an aggressive doe running all the other deer off.”

Given the doe’s behaviour, McBain said he and his wife made the decision to get their kids inside.

“I am extremely concerned about the likelihood of a little kid, or someone else vulnerable, being seriously injured, the way this doe was behaving,” he said.

“The city has done a good job trying to do what they can but the province needs to have a sense of urgency.”

Coun. Sandra Roberts also mentioned an incident this week where she was watching out her window as a man in a wheelchair with a dog leashed to it came up the hill.

She says she saw a deer looking ready to attack the man, who had not seen it. “I yelled outside to my husband to distract the deer. It was going to attack.”

All councillors agreed that there had to be some pressure put on the province to convince them it was a serious issue.

Mayor Don McCormick said that the time to be discussing this issue was back in January as it was unlikely the province would do anything during fawning season.

“There are a couple of kinds of aggressive deer,” he said. There are habituated deer that are a problem at all times of the year, that need to be dealt with as well, he said.

“Right now in fawning season, every doe is an aggressive deer.”

“Who do you call and when do you call them?” McCormick said. “Everybody points their finger at each other. It’s like nothing has happened in the last ten years. We’re back to 2012 again. It’s not realistic to expect people not to walk their dogs for a month during fawning season.”

Oakley says the city has been waiting patiently for the province to do something, but it just never happens.

“I’m tired of it. We’ve waited for a plan.The Ministry has had years to come up with a plan. We probably have 200 deer in town.

“It’s time for the bureaucrats within the province to feel some pressure.”

So far all city requests to the province for help have fallen on deaf ears. The city sent a letter to Minister Katrina Conroy last fall, but nothing has changed.

Part of the problem, says McCormick, is that while the province has the say on what is to be done with deer, the city has a responsiblity for public safety of its residents.

READ: City of Kimberley wants provincial action on urban deer

READ: Life in the urban-wildlife interface

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carolyn.grant@kimberleybulletin.com

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