Sunday, December 15, 2013

Deer Cull Debate Heats Up


(By the Broadcast Center News Team)
Friday, December 13, 2013

The question again being raised in the East Kootenay, do we need more deer culls?

Kimberley and Invermere City Councils believe so, and both have approved them for the near future. The fact that there are usually several culls a year points to the proof that they really don't work, says Invermere Deer Protection Society President Devin Kazakoff.

"It just creates a vacuum effect. If you take out 30 or 100 animals, the ones in the surrounding areas come in, and they have to keep doing it year after year."

If culls are not actually a long term solution, then why are deer culls carried out anyways? Kazakoff believes he has the answer to that as well.

"It's to make themselves look like they're doing something. So if people complain about deer, the quick, cheap, easy solution is to kill some. So they say to the townspeople, 'Look, we're doing something, we killed the deer for you', and that's why they do it."

If you do believe culls are a long term solution, then you're most likely mistaken. It is true that in the long run, you'll have to keep culling deer to keep urban deer numbers down, due to that 'vacuum effect' Kazakoff mentioned. This point of view is also supported by the province, as Wildlife Conflicts Prevention Coordinator Mike Badry details.

"In isolation, a cull will not be an effective long term resolution to deer conflicts. If you still have all the same reasons why deer are thriving in your community, then deer will continue to thrive and they'll rebound from any kind of population reduction."

Badry and Kazakoff agree that education is the key to stopping deer conflicts. Instead of seeing deer killed, the Deer Protection Society would rather that communities invest in education programs to inform people to keep attractants away and to never intentionally feed the deer.

In Invermere, the recent approval of a deer cull has the Protection Society up in arms, particularly because there is little scientific proof supporting culls, and how there wasn't sufficient public input allowed on the matter, except for the referendum. This previously sparked a lawsuit from the Society against Invermere. However, Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft isn't too concerned about the lawsuit, or the Deer Protection Society.

"Ultimately we believe that this is a small group of radical people, who are trying to bully a municipality and waste our resources. So we're not going to sit down and take that."

The appeal over the cull isn't expected to hit courts until next year. In the meantime, the cull will most likely be carried out. Even though there are arguments, debates over scientific proof and now lawsuits, there is one thing everyone can agree on: The deer are not going away forever.

"I would say there's never going to be an absolute zero level of conflict with deer," says Badry. "That would mean we don't have any deer within communities, and I think that's unrealistic."

For more information on the Deer Protection Society's stance on culls, including their own data, go to bcdeerprotection.org

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