Oh deer, don't feed them

Penticton city officials are asking residents to remove as many food sources for urban deer from their homes and yards as possible, to prevent the attraction of deer during the current shift in seasonal migratory patterns.“

"This is the time of year that non-resident mule deer travel in search of food, which is why some
residents might be seeing more animals in the urban environment,” said Mayor Dan Ashton. “We
encourage everyone to make sure there are no obvious sources of food in their yard that might
draw deer into residential areas.”

With additional snowfall at higher elevations, some deer herds have travelled down from rural areas to residential neighbourhoods in search of food.

Council adopted a bylaw last year that prohibits the active feeding of deer within the city, considered to be a large contributing factor to an increase in their   population.

The bylaw states that no one is to provide deer with food by intentionally leaving food, food waste or other attractive edible material intended for the sole purpose of feeding deer.

The city has been implementing as many urban deer management strategies as possible in the last year.

Staff conducted two separate deer counts under the guidance of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Management – the provincial ministry responsible for wildlife management issues.

Twenty deer were counted in the spring and 49 were observed in the fall. The second count was deemed to be more accurate.

Follow-up deer counts are likely to occur, as the information assists the ministry in determining the seasonal habits of deer and pinpointing problem areas.

Municipalities are waiting for the outcome of a court case currently underway in Invermere regarding deer population management practices, before taking more drastic steps, such as a cull.

The problem in Invermere began in December of 2011 when the city hired a contractor to move ahead with a cull and a group calling itself the Invermere Deer Protection Society sued the city, claiming emotional damage from the trauma of imagining the deer being killed.

The group was successful in getting an injunction that slowed down the cull, but when it couldn't get a second, the city moved ahead with culling about 20 deer.

Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft said in an earlier interview, because the lawsuit claims they didn't consult properly, other communities want to find out whether the consultation occurring is enough or acceptable around deer management options and consideration of culls.

The case was expected to go to trial this month.

In the interim, municipalities are focusing their efforts on public consultation based on the request of the provincial government.“

The City of Penticton has been forced into a holding pattern until the legal case in Invermere is resolved and the courts provide direction on the requirements for managing urban deer populations,” said Ashton. “The Invermere case will set precedence for municipalities like us on how the urban deer issue can be addressed.”

The City encourages residents to report sightings of urban deer by emailing [email protected] or calling 250-490-2400, and learn about mule deer by visiting www.penticton.ca.

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