As most Kimberley residents are aware, the City has been involved in a mule deer translocation study and hopes to be given a permit by the provincial government to do further translocating this winter.
However, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) informed the city last fall that Kimberley can only proceed with translocation as a research project, as opposed to ‘operational’ translocation.
Currently, the City is proceeding on the assumption that they will be able to translocate deer this winter under the research study. Coun. Darryl Oakley says that council has approved a budget of $25,000 and applied for $25,000 in provincial funds under money they have allocated for research.
“We are hoping for a research permit for this winter,” he said. “We have the biologist and vet on standby and are hoping to fly at ‘er as soon as we get the permit.”
Oakley says that will likely be in February.
The issue still remains that about 20 per cent of the translocated deer are appearing in other human-populated areas. Oakley says that to get close to translocation being operational, a decision with what to do with those problem deer must be found. That will involve FLNRO working with the Conservation Officer service, which is from the Ministry of Environment.
“That process has to evolve,” Oakley said.
Liz White, from the national animal rights group, Animal Alliance, which is also aligned with other groups such as the BC Deer Protection Society, says her alliance will be stepping up the pressure on the provincial government to consider other options in dealing with urban deer.
“As the mule deer population continues to decline in the Kootenays, the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development (FLNRO) continues to promote culling as the only deer management option for east Kootenay municipalities,” says an Animal Alliance press release. “Both Cranbrook and Invermere have been issued cull permits and the culls are underway. However, to date, no permits for non-lethal deer management have been issued either to the City of Kimberley for a proposed relocation project or the District of Elkford for a deer hazing project.”
Oakley says that is not entirely correct. The City of Kimberley has not been turned down.
“There is not yet enough data to steer it away from experimental yet. We remain hopeful it (a translocation permit) will happen.”
However, he says he understands that White is doing her job, which is to bring attention to other ways to deal with deer, rather than culling.
“She’s doing her job and she has helped us in the past.”
White says the government needs to actively support humane initiatives rather than sitting back ordering the killing of deer.
Animal Alliance has been involved in promoting non-lethal methods since 2011 when culling began in B.C. communities.
“We talked to government about non-lethal approaches,” she said in a phone interview with the Bulletin on Friday, January 12. “We went to Councils, including Kimberley, we met with the government biologist and suggested alternatives.
“The problem is that culling doesn’t work. What we predicted came true. It’s highly controversial. People don’t want traps in their yards. in Invermere, they are killing deer in the works yard, where there are no problem deer because nobody wants a trap in their yard. In Cranbrook, fully one third of the animals killed were non-target animals.”
White says the numbers haven’t gone down in Cranbrook, despite culling every year. And, she says, the province’s own publications admit that mule deer populations in the Kootenays are declining.
“Why are you killing deer when you are concerned about overall populations? Why are you denying non-lethal permits?”
White says that in her experience, people in the government ministries are pretty set in their ways.
“If you’ve got a problem animal, kill it. They think I’m a pest and a bother. I don’t think it matters if the government is NDP or Liberal. I haven’t seen a difference.”
White says she hopes to continue her campaign to put pressure on the government, so that they will change their minds and give a permit to communities like Kimberley and Elkford, who are trying to find non-lethal methods.
“We contributed $10,000 to the translocation study. We hoped that the government would be open to non-lethal methods. But it appears right now, they are backing down. To not issue a permit to Kimberley, a community that knows how to do it, to not issue it, it’s a terrible process.
“But, if we speak out, maybe some of the communities will speak out too and we can come up with something that works.”
Oakley added that the translocation was a fairly Kimberley-specific solution, because there is access to a large winter range near the city.
“The carrying capacity of that range is huge,” he said. “But the issue still is having to deal with the deer that come back into communities and cause trouble.”