Urban deer are literally eating into the profits of fruit growers, and they are asking governments to do something about it.
Fred Steele, a Kelowna orchardist and president of the B.C. Fruit Growers Association, called for a deer cull during his remarks at their annual convention in Penticton on Friday.
“I think the time has come. They are urban deer, they are not wildlife. Next thing they are going to have an address,” said Steele, adding that he understood a couple of pilot projects had been conducted, both relocation and culling.
“They took these critters off into the bush. Not only did they come back, they came back to the original locations they were taken from,” said Steele. “Looking at the options, it’s become pretty obvious that if they’re going to come back that a cull is an unfortunate necessity.”
The BCFGA passed a resolution on Feb. 3 at their annual convention calling on municipalities to institute a deer cull and other practices, like hunting, to control the urban deer population.
Deer fencing, it said, is expensive and only shifts the problem to the next unfenced area.
Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said the BCFGA should be including the province in their call for help.
“The province has made it very clear that deer are under their jurisdiction,” said Jakubeit. “The province has to be bolder in terms of giving municipalities and regional districts the tools to deal with urban deer.”
Jakubeit said municipalities, including Penticton, have faced opposition when they have considered deer culls in the past.
“Too many people think they are warm and cuddly and cute,” said Jakubeit.
It’s not until your property gets damaged, or you get chased or stalked by a deer, he continued, that people’s opinions change.
“They are a large rodent, for lack of a better term. It has been a difficult issue to try to address throughout the whole province,” said Jakubeit. “This is not just a Penticton issue.”
Steele said the deer are becoming a danger to humans as well as crops. He pointed out that they are attracting larger predators, like the cougar family recently killed by conservation officers in Penticton.
The deer also pose a physical danger themselves, Jakubeit said, causing traffic accidents.
“How much damage was there to vehicles? How much potential damage was there for personal injuries or even death?” he asked.