Penticton prohibits deer feeding

Bambi might be cute, but don’t feed him no matter what.

That’s the message Penticton council is sending out to residents after adopting a deer feeding prohibition bylaw on Monday, which forbids residents from purposefully providing food to deer.

Penticton approved a deer management strategy earlier this month, and while most of the focus was on a proposed ungulate count and cull, the plan also called for bylaws to prohibit what lures deer into city limits — primarily food.

The bylaw states that people are not allowed to provide food, food waste or other material that will likely attract deer. People and activities exempted from the bylaw include conservation officers performing their duties, farm operations, fruit or vegetable gardening for human consumption and ornamental plants or flowers.

Enforcement will be complaint driven, city development services director Anthony Haddad said. The bylaw also states that bylaw officers can enter a property to inspect and determine whether compliance is an issue.

The bylaw officer can also take steps to mitigate the attractant in the event a deer has been located on the property that “has endangered or harmed a person or domestic animal, or presents an imminent threat to the safety of any person.”

In addition to the bylaw preventing deer feeding, accompanying fines that could be levied were also presented to council for review.

According to proposed changes to the municipal ticket information bylaw, anyone caught feeding a deer could receive a fine of $200. Those found to be obstructing an enforcement officer with respect to the feeding bylaw could be fined $350.

Coun. John Vassilaki said the figures listed were too steep, and would likely be levied against those with an inability to pay.

“I think that’s just way out of line,” he said. “The majority of people who are feeding the birds, animals and deer are seniors and kids.”

Haddad said staff decided to adopt fines enacted by the City of Cranbrook, which has led the province with its deer over-population management program. He also said that enforcement would be complaint driven, and bylaw officers would have to have evidence of infractions.

“The age demographic is not the same as it is here. It’s completely different,” Vassilaki said.

Haddad also noted that enforcement would likely take on a “mediated approach” to those found to be first-time offenders.

“This is more of a communication to the community,” Coun. Helena Konanz said. “We don’t want to have deer culls. I think this is more about spreading the word that we’re serious about not feeding wild animals.”

Coun. Wes Hopkin said more trouble could arise if the city were to propose smaller fines, as people would see it as a small price to pay for something they like doing. “We actually want to make it a meaningful deterrent,” he said, adding that bird feeders and other incidental sources of food do not fall under the bylaw. “No one’s going to get a fine for gardening, but it’s for actively feeding deer.”

Council unanimously adopted the deer feeding bylaw. Three readings of municipal ticket information bylaw amendments to include the fines were passed, with Vassilaki opposed.


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