By Dan Walton
As the District of Invermere continues to be challenged to manage its deer population, the Village of Radium Hot Springs is also considering dealing with a select few.
Mule deer numbers in Radium are not a huge issue, said Radium mayor Clara Reinhardt in an email. (But) we do have a problem with a couple of does who are aggressive with people walking dogs.
Earlier this month, Village of Radium Hot Springs chief administrative officer Mark Read attended an Urban Deer Management Workshop that was held in Vancouver by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities.
While deers hunger for aesthetic plant life and the waste they excrete are inconvenient, said Mr. Read, the issue has been raised in Radium primarily as a public safety concern.
With the aggressive deer, they can attack animals. They certainly do not like little dogs, and they can threaten people, he told The Pioneer.
At the workshop, the option of capturing deer for relocation was discussed. While the intention of relocating is less contentious than other options, such as a cull, the practical application of it was thoroughly questioned.
First, its very expensive, relayed Mr. Read. You have to capture the deer, you have to anesthetize them, transport them, monitor until anesthetic is gone, and then its recommended that you monitor them further to see if the translocation has been successful.
The high costs associated with relocation are to ensure the end isnt contradicted by the means. Without sedating deer first, stress to the animal during (the relocation) process can lead to its death, said Mr. Read.
Deer then have to be monitored after release. If relocated deer were preyed upon shortly after undergoing sedation, the health of the predators will be put at risk.
Another worry is over the unnatural habits that deer forced to migrate may form, particularly if they were born into an urban setting. Relocated deer might not have the skill-set to live in the wild or evade predators, Mr. Read said. Its also possible that a new environment wont allow for more deer.
The area may already have its normal carrying capacity, he said.
According to information presented at the workshop, studies on relocated grizzly bears have made such findings. In a new territory, bears will often become banished by another bear that was there first.
Translocated bears end up getting pushed from territory to territory in the wilderness, said Mr. Read. Theres a theory that the same thing could happen to translocated deer.
He said the current position of B.C. ministry biologists albeit a fluid one is that relocation of deer is cruel and inhumane.
In exploring options for Radium, Mr. Read hopes to see the province provide municipalities with more tools, particularly for the sake of cost effectiveness.
We know theres mixed sentiment. A lot of people love the fact that we have deer and bighorn sheep, and then there are people polarized on the other end of the spectrum.