To the editor:
On April 6, 2017, I had a polite gentleman visit my house in the upper Mission who asked that I sign a petition to have the local mule deer population culled. The petition was addressed to the City of Kelowna seeking a deer cull, paid for by the local municipality. He stated that the deer population had become too large, that the deer were eating everyone’s shrubs and flowers and that they were becoming a public safety issue. He erroneously stated that there had never been deer in this area before and now they were everywhere.
As a devoted sustenance hunter, long term resident of Kelowna and member of a provincial wildlife association I am quite well-versed on the ongoing issues surrounding deer in the area, particularly those living in and around the South Kelowna interface areas.
I have learned of numerous deer versus human conflict situations over the past 10 years throughout the southern interior and South Vancouver Island regions. The conflicts have become so troublesome that culls have been implemented (or attempted) in numerous communities. These culls are very controversial and utilizing non-lethal means of moving wildlife is costly and stresses the animals.
In September 2013, I proposed a unique and workable solution to the BC Wildlife Management branch to deal with this controversial issue. Since the majority of the human/deer conflict situations involve mule deer, I proposed that the Limited Entry Hunting (LEH) draws for mule deer be increased in identified problem areas through the province. By reviewing the historical LEH ratios and statistics, I determined that there is an abundance of sustenance hunters who are willing to take on the responsibility of harvesting female mule deer. By doing so, this reduces the large population of mule deer to numbers that are biologically sustainable for the area habitat. Sadly, I never received a reply back from the respective ministry.
Given the abundance of animals, lack of predators, loss of natural habitat and recent mild winters, I can only anticipate that the deer versus human conflicts will increase. So the province and the City of Kelowna are now at an impasse. Do we continue to entertain the highly controversial animal culls and/or costly deer relocation programs? Or do we look to sustainable solutions such as increasing the number of LEH permits to allow lawful hunting in problematic areas. To me, the solution is simple.
Therefore, I respectfully ask that the province, the City of Kelowna and it’s respective citizens reject any proposal to cull the local deer population and look toward other reasonable and cost effective solutions that benefit both wildlife and the residents who live in interface areas of the city.
Kevin Hamilton, Kelowna