by Gary Smith, Chair, Grand Forks Deer Committee
At the regular council meeting of June 20, council members voted unanimously in support of a recommendation of the Deer Committee.
The resolution put forward by myself as chair of the Deer Committee was “to obtain permits through the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations to cull up to 80 using clover traps and a bolt gun.”
The recommendation was not made lightly. Following seven years of the committee collecting information on our resident deer population, it was clear that we have been seeing a growing population.
Our last count, conducted this spring, came in at 166 animals. That number represents the minimum number of deer and we speculate accounts for only half of the true number. The recent collaring of a number of deer with GPS units demonstrated clearly that their range is very limited; in all cases just a few hundred metres.
Without the pressure of predators to keep their numbers in check, coupled with the intentional feeding of these otherwise wild animals by some community members, we have created a habitat within our municipal boundaries that is host to 100 to 200 deer per square kilometre. That density is the highest of any other community in the province.
Unfortunately, our collision insurance is also one of the highest in the province due to the fact that the only population control is inadvertent Deer Vehicle Collisions (DVC’s). It is an untenable situation.
With a cull, our intent would be to bring numbers down to 2007 levels. It is done humanely, supervised by the SPCA, and the remains processed, inspected and distributed freely to First Nations and local food banks.
Through education, enhanced signage, and the continued increase in deer-fenced properties, we are reducing the appeal of our city to deer. These elements would help reduce the need for future culls or lengthen the time between them.
It is important to note that council has not decided on a cull but only to obtain the permits to conduct one. It is just one step in moving forward with this element of the Deer Management Plan. With the commitment of Minister Thompson of the MFLNRO to resources and to expediting permits, we hope to not have to bear the financial burden alone.
In communicating and working with other communities dealing with urban ungulates, and possibly in cooperation with First Nations, we can develop further strategies to mitigate the negative impact of wild animals in our cities.
The Grand Forks Deer Committee invites respectful feedback and constructive suggestions that support its efforts. Members of the public can make submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.