By Kristian Rasmussen
Chasing deer out of town is not an option for Invermere or across British Columbia, the province has declared.
In an April 20th decision, it was confirmed that the current laws against using trained dogs to run problem animals, such as Invermere’s urban deer, out of town, will remain standing across the province.
The decision comes despite pressure from towns like Invermere that have been experiencing problems with habituated deer within municipal boundaries.
“I think the decision shows the reality of the situation, which is that there are a very limited number of options for dealing with an urban deer population,” said Gerry Taft, mayor of Invermere.
Vince Zurbriggen of the Invermere Deer Protection Society, a group formed to prevent the town from culling urban deer, thinks hazing has an integral role in any deer management plan.
“Hazing does actually function,” he said. “It has been done and works. Hazing is nothing new; it is sad that they completely banned it. They should allow it at certain times, especially during fawning season.”
Mr. Zurbriggen wants to see the community get involved in lobbying the government to reverse their decision, he said.
“The only option is to keep the pressure on,” he added. “If they take something away and don’t give you an alternative, what do you do? We go back to them and say we need this!”
He would also like to see a system that allows council to apply for a hazing permit in certain situations and for areas like schools and public places.
Mayor Taft said he understands many of the reasons that the decision on hazing was not adjusted by the province to deal with urban deer.
“There is a fear of traffic hazards, damage to property, and deer injured in the process,” he explained.
The mayor also worries about the logistics of hazing.
“There is not an abundance of Crown land in the vicinity. The question becomes where are you pushing them into?” Mayor Taft said. “If we are able to push some of the deer out of the community, without doing damage to property or injuring the deer, then we are still putting them onto somebody else’s land.”
The continued ban on dog hazing came days before Cranbrook announced a second urban deer cull. The community culled 25 animal during the fall and were granted a second permit on April 23rd to cull a further 50.
But the Cranbrook vote will not necessarily affect Invermere’s deer management plan, Mayor Taft cautioned.
“Even though we keep in contact with Cranbrook and Kimberley, ultimately the decision of what to do is up to each individual community,” he said.
“Some of the people that are opposed to the cull are throwing out conspiracy theories that we are already planning one, that there is definitely going to be another cull in the fall. That is definitely not true, but it doesn’t mean that it wont ever happen again.”
Public involvement in the decision-making process will be key when moving forward, he added.
“I really hope that we are able to do consultation, surveying, or maybe a referendum to get a clear choice for the future of what the community wants.”