Not that far apart

Culls remain the source of contention between animal advocates and deer management committee

As Chair of Kimberley’s Urban Deer Advisory Committee Gary Glinz told the Animal Alliance and Humane Treatment of Urban Wildlife committees at Council this week, the City and cull opponents are not that far apart on a lot of issues in terms of managing urban deer populations.

Both agree that education is very important; both agree that it’s important to have good data on all deer complaints; both agree that deer will always be present in Kimberley; and that no one method will work on its own.

The sticking point is any type of cull.

The position of the Urban Deer Advisory Committee in their “Managing for the Future” recommendations is that habituated deer will continue to be a problem in Kimberley and that “public safety will always be a serious and compelling motivation to remove deer to try and achieve liability objectives.”

Glinz and his committee recommended to Council this week that they apply for a permit for a cull of 25 to 30 deer, although Council has not yet voted on that. The Deer Committee continues to believe that culls, even just spot culls, will be a necessary piece of a comprehensive approach to deer management in Kimberley.

Opponents, including the two groups who presented to Council this week, ask for non-lethal methods only.

Deer numbers are down in Kimberley since the cull in 2012 when 99 mule deer where trapped and culled.

This is partially due to the cull, Glinz told Council. Since the cull, aggressive deer complaints have dropped as well, from 33 in 2011 to 20 in 2012, bringing them back to 2010 levels. There were 19 aggressive deer complaints in 2010.

Glinz also acknowledged that it was a tough winter in 2012, and the behaviour of Kimberley’s citizens began to change — fewer people are feeding deer as the bylaw is being enforced, and education increased.

Opponents say it is very difficult to say a cull was a success when other factors are involved, such as Kimberley’s no feeding bylaw, which is now being strictly enforced.

“It remains difficult to determine why there was a 50 per cent drop in the deer population but certainly the feeding ban contributed.”

Animal Alliance also says that other communities are questioning the effectiveness and cost of culls, citing Rapid City, South Dakota, which has culled 3,079 deer at a cost of $346,208 over 16 years. That’s at a cost per deer of just over $112. Kimberley’s costs were much higher than that during last year’s cull.

However, quoting from the Managing for the Future report:

“The cost of trapping deer strains both on the economic resources of Kimberley and the social structure within it. 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.”

It is no secret that any community trying to deal with urban deer issues has been lobbying for the provincial government, which has ultimate say in anything that is done, to take more of a role as economic partner in deer management. So far that has prove unsuccessful.

The bottom line for opponents is that trapping and bolting is not humane ­— deer are under a great deal of stress once trapped, they say.

However, the City’s position remains that habituated deer are a health and safety issue and it must be able to use any tool possible to ensure the safety of residents.