EDITORIAL — To cull or not to cull in Penticton

The depredations of the deer are about to become news once more in Penticton.

The depredations of the deer are about to become news once more as the City of Penticton continues to prepare for a culling of the animals this fall.

But given the results of a recent count done by the city, it may be that no cull is necessary. Friday morning, operating in deepest secrecy, the city sent out nine teams, including citizens, one reporter and several highly-paid city staff to scope out the situation and report on the number of deer in the city.

The reason for the secrecy, we were told, was to ensure that anti-cull advocates wouldn’t be out trying to scare the deer off.

Even if they had known, however, protestors could have stayed in bed. In all, the nine teams only managed to spot 20 deer during their hour-long dawn survey.

There is no doubt that deer can cause serious damage to crops and gardens, can be a bad traffic hazard and even turn violent when cornered. And the number of recent complaints seem to indicate there is a problem.

But if the city is going to continue with such a controversial concept of culling deer, they are going to need better information than those drawn from one or two mornings of driving round the city.

Deer populations ebb and flow; as Brian Harris, the biologist employed by the province points out, at this time of year, deer are likely hiding with their fawns or are back in the hills while food there is plentiful.

What then, is the point of this early morning spy mission?

No reliable data was collected to either justify or deny the need for a deer cull certainly not enough to convince any opponents.

In all, the city needs to adopt a much more professional and business-like approach. If their concept of conducting a count is so ill-thought out, we have to wonder if they really have properly considered options other than a cull.