Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dear Victoria, please deal with your deer

Posted: January 1, 2014

mee-KNOW Editorial
By Ian Cobb
Are you ready for another few chapters in the urban deer control story unfolding across B.C. in 2014?
More and more municipal councils across the province are contending with questions about how to deal with growing deer populations in their towns.
The District of Invermere, one of the grizzled veterans in this tale, intends to take another run at its urban herds this year. In 2011, armed with a permit to cull 50, the district removed 19 via clover net trapping and bolt gun dispatching. It received another permit to remove 100 more deer but the lengthy and expensive court challenge from the Invermere Deer Protection Society interrupted those plans. The district still intends to conduct another cull, citing continued problems with deer and pointing at a November opinion poll where 74 per cent of respondents stated they agree with a cull being done. Opposition is small in number, says Mayor Gerry Taft, and democracy will win the day and not be bullied.
The other grizzled veteran in this tale is the City of Cranbrook, the location where, thanks to a 2010 viral video of a doe stomping an innocent old dog, the urban deer problem really entered the realm of large public discourse. In 2011 the first provincial permit was issued and the city culled 25 deer. A second permit for 50 deer was provided last winter but city council opted to sit on it to see how the Invermere court challenge panned out. There is still consensus among council members for the city to conduct another cull in the near future.
The City of Kimberley forayed into the cull world second in January 2012 and about 100 animals were culled.
District of Elkford now intends to conduct its own version of a ‘harvest,’ to thin numbers.
Now, it may not seem unusual to citified types in Vancouver or Victoria to note that the hillbillies in the East Kootenay are whacking the deer in their towns.
But scrap that picture and notion.
The latest municipality ready to hit the cull trail – stuffy, tweed-wearing ole Oak Bay. Wealthy retirees don’t need no stinkin’ deer eatin’ their shrubs and stampin’ toward their yippin’ shitpoos neither!
Clearly, when the grandparents and great grandparents of many of the province’s rules and regulations crafting law weasels are screaming at city hall to bolt a batch of Bambis, the time has come for that same pack of legislative manipulators and taxpayer resource dispensation drones to sit the hell down and find a way to provide real help to municipalities in dealing with the urban deer issue.
The Ministry Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations published an urban deer management factsheet last year that noted urban deer are now a safety concern due to growing numbers of conflicts between people and pets, deer-automobile collisions and the tendency of deer to attract predators.
Parents of young children are terrified their wee one will be gored or kick-thumped on the way home from school.
Those same parents used to worry about their kids running into mean dogs but dog bylaws got that under control, mostly. In the old days, when dogs ran loose ad nauseum, they chased deer. We cared for the deer so much back then that ‘dogs chasing deer’ was one of the reasons citizens provided when demanding their councils enact dog control bylaws. It was certainly the case in the District of Invermere.
Several generations of deer have now grown up within Invermere, never knowing the terror of a pack of roaming dogs cornering them in a yard and chasing them back into the adjacent provincial wilderness.
And there is the big, gnarly rub – the provincial wilderness.
By law, the wildlife in B.C. belong to all of us – and more specifically, the B.C. government. The deer our municipalities are trying to contend with belong to the province. What does the province do about deer? Well, it provides the odd permit for municipalities to cull its deer. Effectively, it is passing the buck and downloading a responsibility.
It is nutless and gutless and totally pass-the-buckless.
Opponents of culling cite other, usually more expensive means to control deer populations. That’s a tough sell when a good chunk of your population would rather pull the 30.06 out and blaze away in order to cut the deer numbers back.
It is time our provincial leaders took the necessary steps and created a program that municipalities could access to help them find the best solutions to their deer problems.
The purpose of municipal councils is to make sure their infrastructure is working as good as possible – water, sewer, waste, roads etc. These part-time leaders, most making pittances to wear the hairshirts of office, should not be pondering the demise of sections of the province’s deer herds.
There has been enough downloading the past 20 years – courtesy the NDP and the Liberal governments – and it is time that greasy nonsense stopped.
Urban deer are not an Invermere or Cranbrook issue – they are a provincial issue that needs to be solved in Victoria.
It’s arrived on Vancouver Island in the form of the Oak Bay cull and we are certain there will be a firestorm of discontent from anti-cull folks over that. Perhaps that will be enough to make our provincial government start doing the right thing when it comes to its own deer.

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