The councillor charged with overseeing Princeton’s wildlife issues has some serious concerns about urban deer.
At a recent meeting Barb Gould stated the municipality will have to look again at options to reduce deer numbers in town including culling, relocation and doe sterilization.
“Communities that are having problems with urban deer are doing one of these things, or leaving it,” said Gould in an interview with The Spotlight.
Gould, along with a team of five other people including two provincial wildlife biologists, recently conducted a deer count.
Eighty deer were recorded by people in three vehicles over 45 minutes.
“And that’s just driving by, that’s not looking in people’s backyards,” she said.
Fifty-three deer were counted in the spring, and in December 2018 33 deer were counted.
Gould said she is unsure whether there are actually more deer living in town boundaries than a year ago, explaining the recent count was done at a different time of day than previous surveys, and also involved more people.
“I am very sympathetic to the aggressive deer problems we have in this community,” she said.
The town will work towards a deer management plan, that will include working with experts and consulting with the community.
Gould has heard about parents who fear for their children walking to school, and has had meetings with other residents.
“There are seniors in our community that are afraid to leave their houses and go for a walk because of this.”
The municipality last grappled with this issue in 2015, when a town forum was held to discuss options to deal with urban deer.
Gould said she understands the issue is an emotional one for people, depending on their experiences.
“You are going to have very strong opinions on this on all sides.”
As it’s early in the process Gould said she has no personal feelings about what ought to be done.
“I’m on the side of doing something so that every resident feels safe.”
Local bylaws addressing fencing and wildlife feeding may need to be revisited, she added.
Gould urged everyone who experiences a wildlife conflict to contact the provincial RAPP line at 1-877-952-RAPP, as diligent reporting will bring provincial attention to the issue.