Kimberley City Council has unanimously voted to dissolve the Kimberley Urban Deer Advisory Committee (UDAC) after a lengthy discussion at a regular Council meeting on Monday.
A motion was put forth to Council to either re-vamp the committee, as there were not enough members for a proper quorum, or to dissolve the committee entirely.
Council feels as though they now have enough information to continue making decisions around the future of urban deer in Kimberley without the need for a separate committee.
Mayor Don McCormick explained that UDAC was originally put in place to look at the broader issue of urban deer in Kimberley. He says that things have evolved since the committee’s inception and now it’s all about population control. He adds that much has been done by way of bylaws thanks to the work of the committee and City staff.
“We have those [bylaws] in place today and we continue to manage that from a staff point of view as it needs to be managed,” said McCormick. “The function now is one of population management.”
City CAO Scott Sommerville says that Council will ultimately make future decisions around deer populations based on past recommendations from the committee.
Council will continue to review the deer population through the annual deer count, which is done by volunteers. Earlier this year Council voted not to proceed with translocation after numbers went down significantly to 77 from 158 the year prior.
Councillor Nigel Kitto says that Council is now in a position to take leadership on the issue. If they ever feel as though they don’t have enough information, he says, the committee can be re-established or professionals can be consulted on an as-needed basis.
“We are celebrating the success of the committee. This shouldn’t be seen as a reflection of failure of the committee but rather the opposite – mission accomplished,” said Kitto.
Council discussed the topic of translocation at length as well. Councillor Darryl Oakley, who was a member of UDAC, says that while the translocation process is “wildly successful” what doesn’t work is when translocated deer end up in other communities.
“It’s a major amount of work and it’s very costly to deal with those deer,” said Oakley. He adds that those who were involved in the deer committee, from its members to consultants, should be notified and thanked for their efforts.
McCormick replied saying, “the issue right now is the frustration that we’ve supported this pilot, this study, and we’ve gone above and beyond. This business of being responsible for deer wandering into other communities is totally unacceptable…”
Councillor Kent Goodwin, who was the Chair of UDAC, says that it’s imperative the City continues to manage deer populations through translocation.
“We have to do the translocation or things will get out of hand again,” said Goodwin. “We have made progress with deer feeding bylaws and fencing, and the numbers will never get as high as they would have if we hadn’t done that. But I think we’d be surprised how many deer we could support in Kimberley if we do nothing. Every year that we do nothing makes the problem worse.”
The Mayor will soon be travelling to Victoria to meet with Minister Doug Donaldson, who is the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) for the province. McCormick says that a major topic of conversation will be about urban deer and translocation.
“He needs to know how difficult the province is making this for us,” McCormick said.