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Posted: December 16, 2017

Solving the deer problem

Letter to the Editor

Problem

Wildlife roaming Cranbrook’s streets and private yards, damaging private property while endangering the public.

Cranbrook’s deer cull program has been woefully inadequate. Five years of culls total 88 deer, and the last cull was four due to “unexpected health issues which caused the city to lose butcher services.” Deer or human health? he city’s PR guy could be collecting data on homeowner complaints and on deer feeding. As to the number of complaints, mark me down 265 days. And as soon as the city gets a damage reporting sheet, I would appreciate one.

“The city is continuing to manage the urban deer population through a combination of population reduction and public education,” it said. How is public education going to reduce the deer? Deer that have become emboldened.

Solutions

Chris Zettel confirmed a cull permit was the only tool allowed the city by the province. He then mentioned hazing or herding the deer out of town. A shepherd with dogs, 24-7, will break the bank. A recent hazing of elk in Banff failed and Parks Canada put down five bull elk. Birth control is another expensive flop.

Translocation is the last refuge of the serve-Bambi crowd. This small but persistent group fail to grasp there is a reason even B.C. is not in favour of this ineffective and inhumane method of handling a deer problem. Capture myopathy is a big killer of relocated deer.

B.C. Urban Ungulate Conflict Analysis, p. 77: “[translocation is] Not as humane as the public might think. Not necessarily a non-lethal management option.” Michigan in 2000 reported mortality rates from 43 to 85%. Berlinger in 2004 reported 29% mortality of relocated deer, attributed to capture myopathy, with 20% dying in the first 30 days post release. A large study in Utah suggests 50% survival of adults during the first year.

The Mayor of Kimberley says a cull ignited international opposition. Yet nearly every community in the U.S. has been in the culling business. They found out that you cull now or you really cull later.

Princeton, New Jersey banned firearms in 1972. By 2000, its deer herd had grown from 220 to 1,600. Sharpshooters and bowhunters were hired.

In Virginia, 42 cities/towns/counties allow archery hunting. Fairfax County allows hunting on private parcels, resulting in over 1,500 deer culled each year, and utilizes archery hunting in community parks. Last year 848 deer were safely removed from the parks. No safety incidents have been reported during the urban archery season which started in 2002. [Letter from the Secretary of Natural Resources, Office of the Governor of Virginia, Aug. 27, 2014]

Regarding the cull, Councillor Danielle Eaton said: “I feel it’s a program that does not work. I really hope we can push for alternative means of deer management.” Councillor Wes Graham echoes her sentiments. On what planet are these councillors? Google any state and “deer culls,” then read on for a week or two.

City council can apply facts in solving problems, or they can ignore the facts until the problem forces them to take action. Thanks to Mayor Lee Pratt for his informed action.

William G. Hills, Ph.D.,

Cranbrook


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