Council culls Kimberley’s urban deer committee
By Nowell Berg
City of Kimberley council Feb. 25 unanimously voted to dissolve the Urban Deer Committee (UDC).
To recap, council has spent a lot of time debating the issue of urban deer and public safety. After extensive discussion at the January 28 meeting, Councillors Kyle Dalum, Jason McBain and Darryl Oakley supported Mayor Don McCormick’s move to stop translocation of mule deer in 2019. At that time, Councillors Kent Goodwin, Nigel Kitto and Sandra Roberts opposed the ban on translocation.
At Monday’s meeting, what started out as an attempt to re-invigorate the UDC, recruit members at large and appoint Coun. Dalum as a voting member ended up with council defeating the initiative and terminating the UDC all together.
According to Mayor McCormick, the issue is not about translocation, but the consequences of translocation.
Past translocation efforts have shown that 75% of deer moved out of Kimberley remain in the wild and do no migrate back to an urban area. However, the 25% of deer that do return to an urban area, not necessarily Kimberley, pose a problem for the city.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD), which authorizes deer translocation placed a stipulation on the city’s translocation license that it be responsible for the cost of dealing with the deer returning to an urban area regardless if its Kimberley or not.
This stipulation is one that McCormick finds “unreasonable and unacceptable.”
One of the other sticking points of removal of deer revolves around the role the Managing for the Future (MFF) report of 2012 plays in how the city deals with deer.
In the ensuing debate, Coun. Goodwin, a staunch supporter of translocation and reducing the deer herd, wanted the UDC “terms of reference” changed so that the MFF, as an historical document, was not the only guidance the city used in dealing with deer.
This leads to a dysfunctional committee, he said. He also suggested letting the whole deer issue to back to FLNRORD as deer are a provincial responsibility.
Goodwin responded, “They [FLNRORD] wont deal with it.”
The Mayor asked CFO Scott Sommerville to comment as he was the person most responsible for dealing with the various aspects of the translocation license. Sommerville noted the city does not have a wildlife biologist on staff and the MFF was the “playbook” on how the city deals with deer. He said the city has made progress with changing bylaws regarding fencing and feeding deer, which has had an impact on the deer population.
“Public safety was not much of an issue,” he said.
The CAO suggested the UDC be an advocacy group lobbying FLNRORD to take more responsibility for deer and “make it easier to translocate.”
Goodwin concluded, “To stop translocation is not the right approach.”
Having said that, Coun. Goodwin joined other councillors in voting to dissolve the UDC.