No decision on second Kimberley deer cull

Kimberley City Council will wait for fall deer counts before making a decision on a second cull of urban deer.

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There is no doubt that the culling of 99 deer in Kimberley last January was a difficult one.

Gary Glinz, Chair of the Urban Deer Advisory Committee acknowledged in his report “Managing for the Future” that it was a difficult financial, political, social, emotional and environmental challenge, and was stressful on both those carrying out the cull and on many citizens who opposed it.

The general consensus on culls is that once is not enough — they must be undertaken several times to get a deer population down to a level that is considered sustainable.

Will Kimberley be carrying out a second cull?

No decision has been made as yet, says Mayor Ron McRae.

“There will be no decision on a second cull until we’ve done counts,” he said.

Interestingly, McRae says he is hearing anecdotally that there do seem to be less deer in town this year.

“The kind of reports we’re getting are that there is a reduced presence of deer in town. I’m hearing pretty consistent comment on that. I don’t put it down totally to the cull. It could be mother nature.”

Managing for the Future lays out the realities around the cull.

“The cost of trapping deer strains both on the economic resources of Kimberley and the social structure within it,” the report reads. “It is not a wise investment to remove 99 habituated deer, as was done in 2012 and then abandon the program, nor is it productive to ignore what we have already learned from years of hard work by the committee and City leadership.

The City must have a long-term plan to address and mitigate safety threats, community concerns and a sound fiscal management strategy to address this safety issue.

“Urban deer density is not a question of environmental elements such as range capacity. It is a social question about tolerance for deer and their respective impacts. This report will not go into the scientific discussion regarding historical winter/summer range capacity, nor will it try negotiating the social polarization of culling deer. It will attempt to give the City of range of options to help manage the financial and emotional stress of removing deer from the City.

Some of those management solutions include immediate removal by a Conservation Officer of an aggressive deer which attacks a person. If there are a number of complaints within a specific area, City staff would investigate to determine what might be contributing to the incidents, and may also trap and bolt targeted animals in that area.

The report recommends that if the habituated population once again meets or exceeds 2010 counts, another cull be carried out. Areas targeted would be high complaint areas and areas that had low capture rates in the 2012 cull.

If the habituated population remains 30 to 50 per cent below 2011 counts, targeted trapping of perhaps 20 to 50 deer is recommended.

If the habituated population falls 51 per cent below 2011 counts, only aggressive/nuisance deer would be trapped.

Given all those recommendations, Glinz did not ignore the emotional impacts of the cull in his report, a fact which McRae said he very much appreciated.

Glinz said that some of the social unrest and concern came from emotional reaction some e people had to having deer trapped and killed that they consider a sentient member of the community.

“This cannot be, nor should it be ignored when managing deer populations in our communities. Managers must be considerate of this just as they are considerate to the other citizens that are fearful of the animals, resentful of the damage they do and want them removed.

However, the process must go on, he writes.

“Emotion should not dictate the removal process. We need to  understand the emotional effects of a cull and attempt to mitigate this response as much as possible. Culling deer is costly, difficult and controversial; however,  because densities are so  high primarily due to intentional and unintentional feeding, there are valid safety and liability concerns. Action is required.”

The report also says that new, effective non-lethal methods may be developed over time and these need to be examined to determine if they can be deployed in Kimberley.