Urban deer your problem

Education is the route the City of Kelowna wants to take in dealing with a growing urban deer population.

Forestry supervisor Blair Stewart says the deer population has grown exponentially over the past few years. Calls for service have increased from 20 between 2012 and 2015, to 61 the past two years.

He's recommending council forward a request to the regional district asking it to consider membership with WildSafe BC, an organization that provides educational programs designed to reduce human-wildlife conflicts.

"Most people don't know how to deal with it. They don't know what to do, they don't know what to plant, they don't know what to take out," said Stewart.

"Some people don't even have a fence around their property. It's hard for me to tell people what they should or shouldn't do if they don't have a fence. If you are not trying to put (up) a barrier in the first place, how am I supposed to assume responsibility when you are not doing your part?"

Stewart said the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen has had some success using the program to discourage bears, and is also looking at urban deer.

Coun. Luke Stack asked if a change in hunting regulations could have some impact on the deer population.

While he doesn't have specific numbers, Stewart says the regional biologist indicated they are looking at limited entry hunting. He says those permits would allow hunters to target mule deer at lower elevations. Of the 25 permits issued last year, 20 were successful.

"They are looking at implementing 50 this year, and ... 100 next year."

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