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Penticton  

No action on urban deer

Penticton will continue to deal with urban deer issues on a case-by-case basis, despite concerns voiced by some council members during Tuesday night's meeting.

Council members voted 5-2 to maintain a status quo on an urban deer approach, and to work on a "regional approach" with the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen and the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.

The discussion was brought forward after a letter was written by Blossom Court Strata president Wayne Radomske last month, asking the city to help deal with a "growing population" of urban deer. 

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit and Coun. Andre Martin were the dissenting voters against maintaining the same stance on urban deer.

Martin had made a motion for staff to look at hiring a wildlife consultant to develop an urban deer strategy, but that was defeated.

"Doing nothing is not a good option for us," Martin said. "My stepson phoned his mother the other day to say 'could you come over to walk back with me because there's a deer here... If he's a little concerned about walking down his own street then we do have an issue."

City staff had recommended council to keep the status quo, after having looked into how several other municipalities in B.C. had handled urban deer issues in recent years.

Planning manager Blake Laven explained dealing with urban deer used significant resources for those communities, which he said resulted in only minor drops in deer population.  

He pointed out the city is part of a regional deer management group, headed by RDOS WildSafe BC coordinator Zoe Kirk, and said the city should work more to collaborate with Kirk on deer issues.

Kirk doubles as an information officer for the RDOS during emergencies, and was sidelined from her WildSafe BC duties during last year's flood and fire season.

"I think over the past year we've sort of let that relationship with the RDOS slide a little bit on this issue," Laven said.

"(Kirk) was caught up in a lot of (emergency operations centre) stuff last year. But hopefully this year the same issues won't be there and we can engage (BCCOS) and a biologist and everybody back at the table again, to organize a count or make further recommendations."

The last count of urban deer in Penticton, in 2012, found 49 within the city's boundaries. While Laven acknowledged there's a perception the amount has increased, he said no count has been done to determine that.

Laven explained the last deer count was for a deer capture and cull in Penticton — which he said the city abandoned in 2014 due to costs, staff time and public opposition.

In the 2016-17 fiscal year ending March 31, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service received 234 deer complaints within Penticton city limits.

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