The City of Penticton hasn’t done much to address concerns over urban deer since 2014 when it abandoned a plan to capture and relocate deer to the Penticton Indian Band.
That’s not likely to change anytime soon. City council voted Tuesday to maintain the status quo, which includes working with the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen on a regional approach to deer management, working with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service on aggressive or injured deer and dealing with other issues on an event by event basis.
“There is a perception that there is an increasing number of deer in Penticton,” said Blake Laven. “We haven’t conducted any deer counts recently. There was one in 2012 … nothing has been done to test that theory.”
Laven said that over the past year, the city has let the relationship with the RDOS on this issue slide a bit because the wildlife person chairing the committee was caught up in the emergency operations last year.
“Hopefully, this year the same issues won’t be there and we can really engage and get the B.C. Conservation officer service and the biologists and everybody back to the table,” said Laven.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said he was not in favour of a status quo approach, that dealing with the problem would again get put on the back burner.
“City staff take, on average, 52 or 53 deer to the landfill because they have been hit by a car or stuck in a fence and put down by the conservation office,” said Jakubeit. “That is probably way more than we could ever get approval for to cull, yet it is still not making, in some people’s view, a significant change.
“A lot of them have been born here, so they have no fear of humans. It is very difficult for someone to shoo them away from their rose bush, their garden or their property.”
Jakubeit said that re-engaging with the RDOS on deer control was a good idea, but pressure and momentum were needed to create a solution.
“But to just to say we will continue on, will we continue on? That’s where I have some concern,” said Jakubeit.
Coun. Andre Martin said he was willing to support hiring a wildlife consultant to work on developing an urban deer management strategy.
“Doing nothing is not a good option for us. We do need to move on this in some way or another,” said Martin, who argued that the RDOS and the city would likely be busy through the next few months managing flooding and other emergencies, as they were last year. “I just can’t see putting it on a committee. You are three years down the road by the time you get anything done with a committee.”
Konanz said she would vote against it.
“We went through a few years of this, round and round when I first got on council,” said Konanz, adding that provincial restrictions and processes are a stumbling block.
“There was a significant amount of people opposed to doing anything. I just think we don’t need to spend any more money on this issue,” said Konanz.
When it came to a vote, Jakubeit and Martin were the only votes in favour of putting out a request for quotes to located a wildlife consultant.
A motion to maintain the status quo, and to try to work more diligently with the RDOS and other partners, passed 5-2, with Martin and Jakubeit opposed.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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