Dear Editor:

It is not just Invermere that has deer problems. All communities in the valley face this issue. Hold it a second. Did I say deer problems or is this a human problem? I believe the latter is more correct. Weve planted wildlife attractants or food source in our communities. It is human nature to easily blame the wildlife. I must admit I am just as guilty.

Moving to the valley eight years ago I thought, Wow I can finally grow anything Id like coming from the prairies where everything freezes or is choked out by dandelions. In landscaping my yard I planted plants that unknowingly were going to attract wildlife. Guilty again. It was a slow education process learning what attracts wildlife, including deer. Deer just love cedars, tulips and petunias. After spending a lot of money and by trial and error I tried to remove the attractants/smorgasbord. Local Greenhouses/nurseries will give you the appropriate advice if you ask.

Weve also created another attractant. Deer love shrubs; wolves, cougars and coyotes love deer. In turn were attracting dangerous wildlife into our communities. How many times have I read about a cougar entering a community and the cougar being destroyed? The cougar was only trying to survive and looking for its natural food: deer. Deer we have attracted.

What is the solution here? Do we fence our communities as Jasper and Banff have done to keep deer and elk out? That is an expensive solution but it works. Do we cull the animals? That is only short term. The animals will come back. Wed have to cull the whole valley and then where do we draw the line? I dont like the word cull. Just a nice word for what really happens.

Without a food source wildlife will move on. If there are no attractants in our communities the animals will leave. Will an awareness and education program work? Maybe, if everyone participates.

Awareness is lacking in the valley but slowly developing. If you dont like bears in your yard then cut down that apple tree. If you dont like deer in your yard then remove their food. They will not return. Do we need birdfeeders? What did the birds eat before we came along? Birdfeeders are a good source of food for bears and deer. I had a birdfeeder but then do I really want a bear in my yard? I removed it.

Some tough decisions have to be made by everyone. Living in the valley I think weve become quite numb to our surroundings. I know Ive become that way too. Walking down the street and seeing a deer across the road doesnt excite me as it used to.

We have something really unique in this valley but have become numb to it. Next time when youre walking down the sidewalk, stop for a second and look up. See the Purcells, Rockies or even that deer crossing the street and think of how lucky we are to have such beauty. This is something that we should cherish and enjoy.

We have to learn to live in harmony with wildlife. Just remember who was here first.

Mervin Weselowski

Fairmont Hot Springs