Princeton residents may be asked to fill out a survey to help town council determine if there is an urban deer problem.
Coun. Jason Earle asked council on Jan. 9 to consider mailing out surveys to see if people are bothered by deer in Princeton.
“We need to figure out if people actually think there is a deer problem before we do anything,” Earle said.
He said the same five people complain to council about urban deer, so he would like to know the opinions of more people living in Princeton.
The survey would also include questions about what should be done with the deer if overpopulation is an issue.
But council members still have to decide whether the survey will become a reality.
They will be discussing details in the coming month.
Earle presented a copy of the survey done by Cranbrook in 2010 that could possibly be copied by Princeton.
Respondents were asked about the extent of the deer population problem, if they think urban deer are dangerous and whether culling should be an option.
For now, council will be working on educating people on how to handle deer living in Princeton.
“People are still feeding deer in their yards. This is the worst way to keep deer out of town,” Earle said.
Council members discussed mailing out a pamphlet explaining urban deer rules.
Princeton has a bylaw against feeding deer, and Earle recommends reporting anyone who breaks it.
He also says to report any problem deer to town hall and conservation officers.
Urban deer control
Deer management has become a hot topic in B.C., with communities including Penticton, Cranbrook and Kimberley opting for urban deer culls.
There hasn’t been an official count done to see if deer numbers are up this year in Princeton, but complaints to town council show several residents feel the population needs to be decreased.
Culling – which is done by trapping deer and shooting them in the brain – is the easiest and cheapest method of reducing deer numbers, said Brian Harris, biologist with the Ministry of Forests and Land.
He said relocating deer can be difficult because they often stray into other communities, causing the same problem in a new location.
“But Princeton may be an exception because it’s further away from other towns,” he said.
He recommends transporting deer at least 20 kilometres outside the community so they don’t wander back.
A study of the area around Princeton would need to be done before first.
Animal rights groups condemn culling, saying deer are terrified while in the traps and needlessly killed.
They recommend alternative methods such as birth control, the use of repellents and relocation.
But Harris said options other than culling often aren’t possible for logistical or scientific reasons.
“Studies have shown trying to put deer on birth control doesn’t work,” he said.
Earle said the town first needs to figure out whether residents would like the deer population decreased before discussion of what method to use is brought up.