A group originally formed to lobby for a Princeton deer cull has organized, re-branded itself and is promising to seek non lethal solutions to the solve the town’s deer problems.
“We’ve taking killing, a cull, off the table,” said Gino Del-ciotto, organizer of the newly struck Princeton PRO, Deer Population Reduction Organization. “We had a meeting and discussed the feeling that’s been generated in the town. We’ve been at this for three months now….and that has given us a really good read on how people out there feel.”
Del-ciotto founded a pro-deer cull FaceBook group in the fall and in recent weeks others in the community launched a deer protection group. “It was extremely hard to watch the community divide itself,” said Del-ciotto.
The Deer Population Reduction Organization plans to pursue a multi-pronged strategy to control the town’s deer including lobbying for permission to haze – harass and discourage the deer using dogs and perhaps paintball guns.
“It’s in the best interests of the group to pursue these avenues as they are more ethical and easier on the deer and easier on the collective consciousness of the town,” said Del-ciotto. “It will eliminate a lot of the infighting and allow us to focus on the issues.”
Mayor Frank Armitage expressed relief at the development. “This is nice to see a positive outcome to what looked like it was a dispute initially,” Armitage told the Spotlight.
Armitage said he is happy the group has backed off its calls for a lethal deer cull. “I admire them for realizing that they’ve heard that from the community,” he said. “Certainly everything will have to be done as per government regulations and that involves the conservation branch and I’m just pleased that they are getting organized. They have a common pursuit. They want to control the deer and that’s very laudable.”
All members of council, as well as organizers of the deer protection group, have been invited to an upcoming meeting of the Deer Population Reduction Organization and Armitage said he will attend along with council’s deer committee members Doug Pateman and Rosemary Doughty.
Del-ciotto said it’s crucial the group has the Town of Princeton onside. “We want city council to work alongside us to forge an entire new way to deal with urban deer problems,” said Del-ciotto.
In addition to hazing, Del-ciotto said
need to be both educated about the dangers of feeding and caring for deer, and municipal by-laws regarding deer need greater adherence.
“I think city hall needs to be pushed to put a lot of signs up in town about feeding wildlife and the fines associated with it and then the by law officer needs to be instructed to enforce that.”
As well, the Deer Population Reduction Organization will look into the possibility of securing provincial and ICBC funding for highway fences within two kilometres of town to reduce vehicle-deer collisions and push for better fencing and appropriate cattle-guards at the Princeton landfill.
Del-ciotto stressed it is not his group’s goal to rid Princeton of deer.
“Absolutely not. They are part of Princeton’s identity. What we would like to do is return it to a situation of ten or fifteen years ago when it was a real pleasure to see a deer instead of having them regarded as a local pest.”
In a survey of residents in 2013, 63 per cent of respondents said they wanted to see a substantial reduction in the town’s deer population. In the same survey 39 per cent said they did not feel hazing was an acceptable option while 45 per cent said they supported euthanizing the deer.
The Deer Population Reduction Organization selected an executive at its first meeting. Gino Del-ciotta is the head representative, vice-head representative is PattyAnn Peal Harrower, town hall liaison is TamAirah Pedersen Campbell, the Committee Records Keeper is Janis winter and the Facebook page administrator is Kathy Bishop.