Council considers new deer feeding bylaw

Grand Forks city council passes first three readings of a new, toothier deer bylaw.

For people who like to feed deer in Grand Forks, soon it will cost you. That is, if council passes final reading in December on a new deer feeding bylaw.At the Nov. 25 Grand Forks regular city council meeting, council voted 5-1 to pass first, second and third reading on repealing Bylaw 1884. Council also voted by the same number to adopt the first three readings of Bylaw No. 1967, also known as the deer feeding bylaw, which would replace Bylaw 1884. Coun. Michael Wirischagin was the lone dissending vote in both.Bylaw 1967 prohibits the feeding of deer within the municipal boundary of the City of Grand Forks.“It’s more detailed and far more robust,” said Coun. Gary Smith, who is the head of the deer committee. “It outlines some of the steps that are taken in consequence of a complaint or repeated complaints. The person would receive information on why feeding deer is a bad thing. It takes a number of steps to where we start fining people.”The job of fining people would be undertaken by the city’s bylaw officer. “It could be a written complaint from a member of the community or a complaint submitted by a member of the community and followed up on by the enforcement officer who would then observe the activity and then have justification for proceeding,” said Smith. The City of Grand Forks have placed an advertisement in the Gazette looking for a WildSafe coordinator for the area. “That closes on the 27th,” said Smith. “We’ve had a few applicants. It’s a pretty comprehensive position that is based on materials available nation-wide. The program is nation-wide and we’re starting it.”Smith said the WildSafe program, which the city will be initiating soon, is part of an education component.“We want people to be aware of the impact that humans have on wildlife,” he said. “We want to keep wildlife wild. That’s not what’s happening with certain behaviours practiced by certain citizens in the community. We don’t want the only means of a cull to be cars, because that’s nasty. We want to reduce the need for a cull if at all possible. That’s why undertaking these other parts of the plan such as education and signage (is so important). We want to do the best for the community.”Smith said there are many steps to be undertaken before looking at a cull. “We’re kicking around taking this to a referendum,” he said. “It’d be one vote, one person. It’s true democracy. Then it would be up to the deer committee to follow the wishes of the community. It would probably dove tail with the next election. What we’re going to do is have that six month WildSafe education program rolled. That would take us to June where you can see some of that impact and see the effects on the deer population. Then by November, the community has sense they have the education and the background information. Where do we sit with it? Is there still a problem? If we need to cull, how many do we cull? That kind of stuff. It’s following a nice linear path where everything ties in as you go up the ladder.”

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