A few deer from the most recent translocation originally made their way to Canal Flats. They have since left. (Submitted file).

Kimberley Urban Deer Committee sets new goal of reducing deer population to 30

Translocation will continue as experimental, no lethal cull to manage populations, says Mayor.

The Kimberley Urban Deer Committee (UDAC) is hoping to reduce the number of urban deer in town to 30.

The UDAC was created in October of 2010. Since then, the committee has been conducting an annual deer count. The count is required every year so that the City knows hows many deer are in Kimberley in order to deal with population control. The count is based on the UDAC’s Managing for the Future document, which the City follows. The document covers all aspects concerning urban deer from population control to bylaws and community education.

The Managing for the Future document currently states that the City is to manage and reduce deer populations in town if numbers reach or exceed 125. Any number above 125 tends to see more human-wildlife conflict.

At a recent UDAC meeting, members decided that the Managing for the Future Document should be changed, reducing the target number of deer in Kimberley to 30. This was sent to Council for approval, and was approved unanimously at a meeting on Monday, June 25, 2018.

City Councillor Darryl Okaley has been Council’s representative to the UDAC for six years. He explained that the current number of deer in town is below 100, which makes the goal of 30 deer more achievable.

“They [UDAC] have always based the number of deer, for population control, off of 2011’s numbers. Last year, with our translocation we went down to 97 deer [in the community], so when this came up at the deer committee meeting, to aim for a lower target, it was accepted and voted on unanimously by the deer committee in terms of bringing this to Council.

“In the end its fine to aim for this number. It’s just how to get there. Now that we’re at around 100 deer it should be achievable in the next couple of years.”

Mayor Don McCormick says the City has “no intention at all” of a lethal cull, and that translocation will continue to be their number one method for reducing deer populations.

“We don’t have any inclination or direction at all to move towards a lethal cull, as long as we have translocation available as an option,” he said. “Translocation, not withstanding some of the minor findings, has been a huge success. Unfortunately it’s still in pilot stage, we’ll continue to have to go through the licensing process, but it’s a tool that we’ve used three years in a row and has worked.”

Since Kimberley started to manage deer populations, Councillor Albert Hoglund has stuck to the fact that the deer belong to the Province. He says that the Province should be helping by way of more funding and finding a place where deer can’t return to the City.

“With this last translocation we had, quite a few deer came back to Kimberley,” he said. “We’re putting good money to a bad thing if they’re going to come back. I would like to see the government find an area farther away, or somewhere with natural barriers such as a river, so the deer can’t come back. I think the provincial government should get on board and be paying for more of this.”

50 per cent of the translocation that took place earlier this year was funded by the Province, as an ‘experimental’ translocation.

The deer move a long way, says the Mayor, sometimes in excess of 100 or 150 kilometres.

“It’s almost inevitable that some will find their way back into communities. The question is how many,” he said, before referencing minutes from the deer committee meeting. “…the more you translocate into a particular area, the more likely some of those deer are going to find their way back. If we get to a point where we only have to translocate a few out of the community, the probability of any of those deer getting back to any community becomes a whole lot less.”

Oakley says that biologists are still continuing to experiment with locations and natural barriers.

“Biologists are looking at natural barriers, discussing with BC Timbre Sales to see where they will be logging and if those areas are accessible. It’s not without problems, no doubt, there are cost implications and predation is slightly higher with deer that have been translocated. The actual process of translocating in town, darting them and moving them is very smooth. It starts to get tricky once they’ve actually been moved.”

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