Earlier this year, Councillor Jason Earle formed a Deer Committee with volunteers, Karin Green, Rosemary Doughty and Lisa Carleton. The committee developed and adopted a survey that was issued to Princeton residents. 1270 surveys went out and 334 were returned.
In September of this year, on behalf of the Town of Princeton, Councillor Doug Pateman gave the following Urban Deer presentation to Minister Thompson – Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
Of the 334 surveys returned, 81 percent stated that, “No action taken by Council was unacceptable.”
45.3 percent indicated to capture and euthanize was acceptable and 41.3 percent indicated that relocation was the preferred method of dealing with the deer population in Princeton.
Because of only a four percent difference, Council feels that to perform a cull would only invite court action against the municipality—something they wish to avoid. Exploration into the possibility of “Hazing” as a method to correct the urban deer issue is underway. However, as per section 78 of the Wildlife Act, “the use of dogs to harass wildlife is an actionable offence.’ To go further, to use dogs to round up, run down or to chase deer within a town boundary causes three specific dangers.
1) Panicked deer become a traffic hazard.
2) Panicked deer will run where ever they want and through what they want, causing property damage.
3) Panicked deer become injured quite easily leading to the need for the injured animal to be put down.
These three reasons, again have the potential to lead in to legal action by animal rights activists, against the municipality.
In 2010, the BC Government conducted a study and filed a report titled, “B.C. Urban Ungulates Conflict Analysis.” Princeton, among other municipalities were mentioned as prime examples of aggressive Mule Deer interaction towards humans. In this report was a list of different tactics used by both Canada and the United States as well as their results.
In 1985, the city of Winnipeg managed to capture and relocate 283 deer. Damage complaints and deer vehicle collisions dropped dramatically for the next 10 -12 years. By the numbers shown, this example was the most favourable of results of all the examples given in the report.
This method also had the longest desired effect and most importantly, animal rights activists were appeased.
What Council proposes is a three stage program. They would like to see the conservation office take a more active role in the removal and euthanizing of identified aggressive and territorial deer.
Step two would be a relocation program implemented by the provincial government with the possibility of partial funding to municipalities who have followed pre-described steps such as deer committees, surveys and public education in order to qualify.
Step three would be an amendment of Section 78 of the Wildlife Act to allow in B.C., qualified and licensed hazing contractors to work within town boundaries in extreme cases.
This problem was created by mankind and like it or not, it must be corrected and managed by mankind.
Councillor Pateman along with committee members Doughty and Carleton are continuing efforts to find an acceptable and affordable solution to deal with the deer population in the community.