File Photo

Oh Deer, says council

Elkford starting deer hazing pilot project

Elkford is rife with deer. They’re in backyards nibbling apples from trees, on front lawns, eating grass between Halloween decorations by front porches. They’re in ditches. They’re everywhere.

Council voted to take non-lethal action against the ever-growing deer population in town on Monday night, which will hopefully keep the doe-eyed beasts off municipal streets.

They’ve chosen to implement a new hazing tactic, which will have trained dogs chase the deer out of town.

“The number of bucks in town is astronomical,” said Councillor Mandy McGregor, explaining that there are too many deer for the limited food sources in town, and they will soon grow ill. “Elkford cannot sustain this number.”

She said that she’s worried about deer feces in the local parks, and if these deer fall ill, children may be exposed.

“Be prepared, you’ll probably have another deer die in your backyard,” she said. “It’s going to get ugly this winter.”

The deer hazing pilot project was tried in Kimberley, but it was not considered successful.

The project was also tried in Alberta, at Waterton Lakes.

The idea is to use trained border collies to herd the beasts out of town, however, it required consistent use, and it helped discourage fawning in urban settings.

The report on the project stated a number of concerns with using dogs to haze deer in urban settings, including deer becoming traffic hazards, becoming injured and damaging property as well as becoming a nuisance to adjacent farms outside of town.

Section 78 of the Wildlife Act prohibits people from using dogs to harass wildlife, but it would not apply in the case of urban deer.

“It’s nice to see something non-lethal being attempted,” said Coun. Joe Zarowny, who also noted that castration and sterilizing the local deer could help with population control.

The town’s pilot program will be researched further by staff and budgeted for in the 2018 fiscal year.

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