The District of Elkford will be harvesting up to 50 deer this January under a provincial licence to euthanize deer in town limits. The licence to kill 50 mule deer was issued in October. Three separate deer counts showed there are 78 to 140 deer in Elkford. The last count in September showed deer numbers in Elkford town limits had lowered so the District is expecting to harvest 30 animals. The meat will be prepared for local food banks.
B.C. regulations dictate that no dogs (as is allowed in Alberta), no guns and no archery are allowed with the cull. A clover trap will be used to trap the deer and a captive bolt gun will euthanize each animal. The cull is expected to commence in January 2014 once the contractor is secured.
The deer harvest is motivated by public safety. Reports of aggressive deer attacking people and injuring dogs are the first concern. As the herd becomes unnaturally large there is a greater chance of a tick borne disease. The Committee held a public open house on November 26 to explain the planned deer harvest in January but only six to eight residents attended.
“The deer seem to have an issue with people with attachments,” said Bernie Van Tighem, District staff representative on the Urban Wildlife Management Council Advisory Committee. “Deer have gone after people with strollers and dogs on leashes.”
One deer went into a back yard killing a nine-month old puppy and there have been instances where vehicles have been driven between a human and a deer for safety’s sake.
Elkford Council approved the recommendation from the Urban Wildlife Management Advisory Committee to create a new bylaw to deal with broad wildlife issues at the Nov. 25 regular council meeting. This bylaw will replace the existing Deer Feeding Prohibition Bylaw No. 676, 2006.
The current bylaw fines individuals $100 for feeding wildlife.
The new bylaw is intended to include all wildlife and match provincial fines. Residents could see a new bylaw in early 2014 that will continue to fine unintentional wildlife feeders $100 for putting their garbage out too early. New changes could involve individuals intentionally feeding wildlife, such as placing salt licks, or repeatedly leaving garbage out in a non animal proof container, resulting in a $300 fine.
“It appears we have an indigenous deer herd with two or three generations that have never left the townsite,” said Van Teigm. “It’s an unnatural herd. I think they live here because they are successful. We have created a predacious-free zone so they stay.”
There have been many reports of deer eating garbage and people habitually feeding the deer too.
In 2012, 433 Elkford residents participated in an online survey about the deer population in the townsite. Deer aggression towards humans, pets, threat of vehicle collision, damage to plants and trees and over population of the herd were the top concerns. Over 55 per cent of those surveyed had been threatened or a member of their immediate family had been threatened by a deer in town limits. Of those cases, 78 per cent reported it was by a doe in summer or spring.
Residents have used fencing, netting and screening, repellant and scaring as deterrents for deer. 24 per cent also said they knew of someone who fed deer.
In dealing with the population, capture and relocation was the top option, followed by controlled public hunting and education. Only seven per cent selected the capture and euthanize option.
Sixty per cent of the people surveyed had lived in Elkford for more than 20 years.