While there is a lot of public attention focused on the presence of mule deer in the streets of East Kootenay towns, resident hunters are expressing concerns over diminishing populations of mule deer in the wild.
In particular, a petition has been launched locally to put an end to the “any-buck season,” which has been running in the East Kootenay through the month of October since 2010.
As the name implies, an any-buck season allows for the harvesting of any buck, not just “four-points” or more, which is the norm throughout the length of hunting season in the fall.
Joe Palmer and Jim Bowe, both avid hunters and outdoorsmen, and two of the organizers of the petition, say the any-buck season has led to drastic over-hunting in October, which in turn has led to a noticeable decline in mule deer numbers.
“The majority of our time is spent in the bush,” Bowe said. “And the people on the ground, in the field, are not seeing those numbers.”
“The Ministry (of Environment) says they want to increase hunter opportunity,” Palmer said. “But if the season is allowed to go on, there won’t be any hunter opportunity, because those numbers won’t be there.”
The any-buck season runs in October in the East Kootenay. The season was introduced in 2010 for two main reasons, according to the BC Ministry of Environment: to minimize the complexity of hunting regulations and to harmonize the regulations with the rest of the province, and to increase hunter opportunity and recruitment.
The Ministry of Environment, on a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ segment on the issue on it’s website (www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/wildlife/management-issues/docs/kootenay_mule_deer_faq.pdf), acknowledged the depth of local opposition to the any-buck season, but also stated there is support as well, including from such associations as the B.C. Wildlife Federation.
The Ministry website stated that 80 per cent of hunters who harvest a buck during the any-buck season were from the Kootenays.
The petition has so far collected more than 700 signatures, including Kootenay East MLA and cabinet minister Bill Bennett’s. It is available at Mountain Man Outdoors on Baker Street in downtown Cranbrook. It is also available online at www.thepetitionsite.com/925/177/938/stop-the-any-mule-deer-buck-season-in-the-east-kootenay/
“People come to the East Kootenay to see wildlife,” Palmer said. “This area is the hub for wildlife in the province. But we feel the any-buck season is damaging that.”
Palmer added that he wanted to thank all those who’ve so far signed the petition.