Editorial: Relocation could take care of more deer for less

Communities eager to research and implement innovative and effective new solutions other than culling

The reluctance of the provincial government to move ahead on urban deer management when deer-infested communities are talking amongst themselves, eager to research and implement innovative and effective new solutions other than culling, is likely explained by budgeting priorities.

While the term is “urban” deer management, the issue of deer overpopulation is only a problem is more rural parts of the province, and so doesn’t have the same weight and pull than if it was a problem affecting more densely populated areas. “Rural” deer management might be more the more fitting label, and explains why deer population control is sitting on the bottom rung of the priority ladder, similar to, one could argue, rural medical services. As we’ve seen with the Invermere dialysis unit, a smaller population doesn’t warrant the cost-prohibitive investment of tax dollars when every ministry in B.C. is requiring more money, from health to education to energy and so on.

Though MLAs from the East and West Kootenays are doing their best to make a lot of noise, the province is clearly unwilling to budge anytime soon, with 2017 being the soonest the Ministry of Environment is considering re-allocating staff resources.

In last November’s referendum, Invermere residents voted to go ahead with deer culls, with 74 per cent in favour of culls as the go-to deer management strategy.

Interesting that despite the vocal local opposition to a deer cull, no parties have come forward to take the District of Invermere up on its offer to fund deer relocation at $300 per deer.

The cull that is forecast for the District of Invermere in 2015 will cost $1,000 per deer (a capped cost of $30,000 split between a capped number of 30 deer, according to this week’s front page story).  If you do the math, relocation could save local taxpayers either $700 per deer or would remove 100 deer for the cost of culling 30.

Not enough of an incentive for the provincial government to take immediate action, but definitely something that could become a community project with worthwhile dividends.