Deer relocation pilot project seems unlikely

Province's lukewarm enthusiasm for urban deer relocation studies and projects hampers local efforts

The idea of relocating urban deer inundating East Kootenay communities such as Invermere is unlikely to see much progress in the coming year.

Several communities, including Invermere, has expressed interest in helping fund a relocation pilot project or study, but wild deer are technically under jurisdiction of the provincial government, and any relocation project would require provincial approval and funding.

The District of Invermere did indicate our interest in funding the relocation of deer. We indicated that the entity doing the movement of deer would need to have approval and support from the province, and that we would be willing to fund up to $300 per deer,” said Invermere mayor Gerry Taft.

Several conference calls were held on the topic, this past summer and fall, which resulted in several companies being invited to submit proposals on what a urban ungulate relocation study would look like, and cost, said Taft, adding one issue is that local Ministry of Environment staff (based in Cranbrook) would need time to work on it.

In the fall of 2014 the local Ministry of Environment staff indicated that they may not have time in their work plan until 2017 to participate in overseeing the deer relocation pilot study,” said Taft. I think it is fair to say that there has not been a great deal of enthusiasm from the Cranbrook-based Ministry of Environment (MOE) representative.”

The East Kootenay region isn’t the only one in the same situation, according to Taft.

On every aspect of the urban deer file, whether it be culls, relocations, education, or any other item- many communities across BC have expressed frustration with the Province over a lack of action, clarity, and complete unwillingness to fund anything to deal with their animals,” he said, adding that two years the premier promised a provincial committee to look at the issue, and that this past fall provincial Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson promised a meeting on the issue in November, but neither has yet happened.

The Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) is organizing a session with the province in January, which Taft hopes will shed more light on the relocation issue and and provincial staff resources and potential funding for it.