Hunters in the Columbia Valley will have a more restrictive mule deer season this year, as the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations has moved back to a four-point buck season from the any-buck season in place the last few years.

“It’s in response to concerns about low buck numbers in some areas,” said ministry wildlife biologist Tara Szkorupa (based in Cranbrook). She added that the move comes following recommendations to reduce the harvest of bucks in the East Kootenay in the regional mule deer management plan.

A four-point buck is one that has a least four tines (or points) on its antlers.

Hunters had also been complaining about the quality of bucks as well as low numbers, said Ms. Szkorupa.

The current mule deer hunting season runs from September 10th to November 10th.

Ministry wildlife biologists across the East Kootenay are aware that mule deer populations as a whole, not just the number of bucks, are down. They are hoping to conduct a radio collar study on the mule deer in the region starting this winter, according to Ms. Szkorupa.

The decline has been noticed starting in about 2005, she said.

“Just changing the hunting season (to a four-point buck season) won’t address the overall population decline. There are other factors out there that we want to investigate as well,” said Ms. Szkorupa, adding some of those factors are habitat-related, some are predator-related and some are a combination of both.

“These factors do interact,” she said.

Ms. Szkorupa hopes the study will last about five years. It will focus on does, examine any causes of mortality, and will look at fawn recruitment to see how younger deer are doing as well.

Hunters can get their licences at all Service BC offices as well as at some commercial outlets and sporting retail stores.

For the most up-to-date hunting and trapping regulations, visit env.gov.bc.ca/fw/wildlife/hunting/regulations/1416/docs/Hunting-TrappingSynopsis_2014-2016.pdf.