Letter to the Editor: Non-lethal solutions

We are trying desperately to research and find the best solutions to keep our deer and community safe without an annual cull.

A Deer Solutions Group was started a few months ago as a subsidiary of IDPS (the Invermere Deer Protection Society) to develop a progressive non-lethal human/deer conflict resolution strategy. We are trying desperately to research and find the best solutions to keep our deer and community safe without an annual cull.

Many people believe bolting free range deer is at best difficult to carry out humanely and at worst is brutally cruel. The bolt gun was designed to be used by the farming industry, not to kill wild animals.

Towns that have culled have had to continue to cull because of the “Rebound Effect.” The reproductive rebound effect is a well-documented population dynamic involving deer and other mammals. With a sudden drop in herd numbers, younger fawns will reach maturity faster and start breeding. The females will also give birth to twins and triplets instead of single fawns. The deer population will quickly rebound to the same number it was before the cull. Helena, Montana is the perfect example of how deer culls are not working. They have been culling annually for years,  yet still have a deer problem.

Money spent for culling could be used more wisely. There are numerous non-lethal alternatives that are available to help resolve human/deer conflicts such as education, no-feeding deer by-laws, fencing, hazing, deer- resistant gardens, contraceptives, and ensuring eco-passages and connected natural areas.  

An annual cull also does not deal with human/deer conflict efficiently or effectively. Hazing with dogs and even sometimes people has been proven to be very safe and effective in Banff, Canmore and Waterton, as well as in many other areas. The deer are gently pressured by specially trained dogs and gingerly pick their way out of town.  The folks responsible for hazing have experienced no accidents, injuries, or damage to property — despite conducting hundreds of hazing events involving large numbers of deer and elk in busy tourist areas.

Hazing or displacing the deer from the townsite during fawning season deals directly with issues of habituation, and has many other lasting benefits such as increasing wariness of deer towards people and dogs, encouraging migratory behaviour and increasing the number of fawns born out of urban areas.

We are very fortunate to have one of the best-known dog hazers living right here in our valley. It would be an honour to have the opportunity to see firsthand these well-trained, efficient dogs perform in our very own township. Folks who have experienced aggressive deer, or just deer eating their gardens, could now have the relief of knowing there is someone local to help deal with the safety issue instead of permitting a once-a-year cull.

If the Ministry of Environment receives an application for the permit of hazing from the District of Invermere, along with a research proposal with public support, this will start the process to allow Invermere a permit for hazing. We have a large group of people who would love to volunteer their time to help with a formal research proposal along with whatever is necessary to allow a permit to haze. Please join us and help convince our deer committee and council that is what our community wants. For more information, please join us at the IDPS Solutions Group —www.invermeredeer.com. Find our group under the “solutions” tab.

IDPO Solutions Group