When the Kimberley Urban Deer Committee tabled the document ‘Managing for the Future’ last year, Kimberley City Council accepted unanimously and agreed to follow its recommendations.
One of those recommendations was that occasional culls would still be required to manage Kimberley’s deer population. At City Council on Monday evening, Council voted to apply for a permit that would allow a cull of a maximum of 30 mule deer.
It is by no means certain the cull will occur — it remains dependent on upcoming population counts in November.
Committee Chair Gary Glinz wrote to Council explaining the reasoning.
“This request is a proactive measure to ensure we can obtain a permit in a timely manner. the permit will only be used if this November’s deer counts indicated a cull is required as outlined in the matrix within the document ‘Managing for the Future’ and further approval from the City is obtained.”
Council had a long discussion on the matter. When Coun. Darryl Oakley put forward the motion, there was a significant pause before Coun. Jack Ratcliffe seconded it to open it to discussion.
Oakley said the decision on whether to go ahead will not just factor in population but also what the City can afford. Oakley said the deer committee had an extensive debate and looked at number of complaints, where they occurred, accidents and more.
“When the counts are done, it will come back to Council to decide if a cull will take place,” Oakley said.
Coun. Kent Goodwin proposed that the maximum number culled should be 50, not 30. He said that Kimberley was already over the threshold that the Managing document suggests would require a cull of 30.
“It’s quite possible we’ll be over the next threshold after this count. If we can find the money, we should consider taking 50.”
However, it was argued that the City should continue to follow the Deer Committee’s recommendations to the letter.
Mayor McRae asked about selective culling of only problem animals.
“In conversations I have had with Gary Glinz around the cull, it was mentioned that we would seek a permit to address problem deer, meaning responding to specific incidents and using the permit to address that.”
Oakley said that was the preferred way, but that there had been considerable resistance from the MInister on that.
“Especially during fawning season, there is no way they will allow us to take out an aggressive doe and leave a fawn behind. Maybe in the winter months.”
Oakley also said the City had few options because the province had not made any moves yet to amend the Wilfdlife Act to allow aversive conditioning, despite a successful experiment in Kimberley last spring, which limits the City’s options.
And there is the matter of costs as well. Since the previous culls two years ago, costs of trapping have risen significantly to $650 per trap.
Goodwin suggested that if prices had risen that much, it should go out to tender again to find different trappers.
Oakley said deer committee members had done some drive-arounds in advance of the count, and felt that 30 deer would accomplish population management.
“I think aversive conditioning would end up being cheaper give the prices we’ve seen for trapping, but we don’t have that option right now,” Oakley said.
Coun. Bev Middlebrook said she felt more comfortable with a selective cull, which addressed problem animals.
“When you take out 30 animals in a cull, you are taking aggressive and non-aggressive animals,”Oakley agreed. “It’s not perfect.”
Goodwin said he had spoken to wildlife biologists who felt Kimberley’s carrying capacity for deer should be in the range of 30 to 40 animals.
“We’re trying to carry 100 to 150. I don’t understand the numbers. However, a number of people in town are bothered by the deer in general, and particularly worried about only aggressive deer.”
Goodwin said he supported the cull.
“Given that we in the East Kootenay are in the habit of eating deer, it doesn’t bother me if people eat these deer.”
However, he added that it could get very expensive trying to manage a population of 150 deer, especially if about 100 of them were breeding females.
“It seems to me if you have 100 breeding females, you are creating a bigger problem and expense each year.”
Oakely said he respected that opinion but after the last cull, with the population down to 120, there were fewer complaints and incidents were down.
“There is a social tolerance for a balance of wildlife moving through town.”