I would like to congratulate Robert Handfield (past-president of the South Okanagan Naturalist’s Club) for his excellent article “How many deer are too many?” which appeared in the Western News on July 8.
He addressed an issue which has been too long ignored in the city, presumably because Bambi-obsessed apartment dwellers cannot even consider the idea that these beloved creatures have become a problem. If the issue was confined to the devastation of gardens it would be troublesome, but perhaps tolerable. But when it comes to attacks on dogs and humans then we must consider how far this problem should be allowed to grow.
If we were facing an infestation of rats, also mammals which have existed for millions of years, then there would be little doubt about our collective reaction: extermination, and as soon as possible. Why should deer be treated differently? Are we waiting until a child is seriously injured or even killed? Apart from the problems mentioned above, deer are a menace to traffic and potentially bring tick-borne and other diseases into the neighbourhood.
It is stupid to argue that “they were here first” unless those who advance this asinine point of view are willing to abandon the city and allow it to return to a natural state where deer can cohabit with their natural predators and a population balance can be regained. Giving the current state of the economy in Penticton, that might not be a bad idea.
If we reject the above suggestions and similar ones from Robert Handfield, then the only answer to a rapidly increasing population of urban deer is a drastic culling carried out as humanely as possible. For almost all of us this would be a somewhat unpleasant solution, but no worse than that which would be imposed upon rats and is already imposed upon bear and cougar who show no fear of humans.