Oh deer, you have to move

The capture and relocation of deer in the city of Penticton, has moved a step closer to reality.

After being presented with several options at Monday's meeting, the city council elected to go with a pilot program that entails partnering with the Penticton Indian Band.

There will be changes to the selected option, however, primarily because some council members found the cost of relocating approximately 30 deer at $1,000 per animal too pricey.

"The ministry said it would cost us $1,000 a deer to do this, which was just outrageous," said Councillor Helena Konanz.

While councillor Katie Robinson, who voted against introducing the program, felt the money could be better spent on public education.

The amendments are removing the reference to 30 deer from the option and that staff be directed to only spend a maximum of $15,000 for the  program.

What remains is working with the PIB and Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations in the preparation of a general permit application and that staff prepare a request for proposals, RFP, for a qualified contractor to undertake the work, in association with the PIB in the early spring of 2014.

The role of the PIB members in the effort is the deer would be taken to their land, said Anthony Haddad, the city's director of development services.

The actual effort includes trapping the deer in certain locations. The contractor hired by the city would then work with PIB members to humanely relocate the animals to PIB land.

The deer would not be tranquilized , as this method is not recommended by the ministry, and trap locations will need to be identified based on problem areas within the city.

The new location for the animals would be on land approximately 10 km from the western city limits. It is also suggested they be tagged, so records can be kept of animals that return to the city.

According to Haddad, the ministry has advised the winter months are most appropriate for such a program, because re-locating them after mid-March reduces the ability for its success.

He said the staff is now working on getting the RFP out as soon as possible. They will then bring the matter back to council for consideration.

The city has been dealing with the urban deer management issue since the middle of 2011. Most recently it awaited the outcome of a court case involving the District of Invermere and the Invermere Deer Protection Society.

That decision allowed communities to continue on with their respective urban deer strategies and community based processes.

The $1,000 per deer that was proposed by the ministry for the capture and relocation program is higher than the capture and cull method that involves costs of under $500 per deer, given the time involved with humane capture and transportation.

Only $5,000 had been allocated in the city's 2014 operating budget for managing the animals.

Konanz, who brought a less costly deer relocation program in Republic, Washington to the council's attention, said she was glad the pilot program was being looked at, at a lower price. 

"I think it's an excellent idea," she said. "Any time we can partner with the Penticton Indian Band is a positive, and not doing a cull is positive. No one feels good about that."



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