March 20, 2015 - 4:27 PM
PENTICTON - Municipalities looking for a solution to excessive deer in their neighbourhoods shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for workable legislation from the B.C. government.
The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen met with the province and a handful of other municipalities for a two day workshop to discuss urban deer issues. Regional district Chief Administrative Officer Bill Newell told directors March 19, the province is inconsistent in its handling of the urban deer problem.
“They have a number of departments involved - Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, the Ministry of Environment is involved, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and others, and the province doesn’t really know who’s in charge of this, or what their roles are, either,” he said.
Newell said the province was clear in stating deer were a provincial responsibility.
“They would take great umbrage if a local government decided to do anything that would muddy that understanding, so whatever happens with deer is going to be permittable,” he said.
Newell said the workshop also discussed the province’s lack of allocated resources to deal with deer management issues, noting also that too many provincial departments were involved in the issue.
Recommendations stemming from the workshop included a request for provincial funding to communities facing deer management issues, similar to other wildlife management programs such as the BearSmart Program. A desire for clearly stated options for local governments to manage deer populations was also requested, along with more precise steps for municipalities to take when deer conflict with people in an urban setting.
Newell said government tends to vary from place to place, making it difficult for municipalities to know what can and can’t be done.
“It changes from locale to locale, so even if Invermere gets a decision from a court case, it’s not to say that could be a precedent for any other local government, because the rules change,” he said.
Newell said the province wants an advisory committee to create the process.
“Public engagement is critical to the province. They aren’t going to do anything without lots and lots of public engagement in this whole process, because they own the deer, “ Newell said, adding an acceptable public engagement process still needs to be developed.
Newell said municipalities will also need to show mitigative action prior to requesting deer management help from the province.
“There’s going to have to be bylaws and other actions that are within the authority of local government right now to try and discourage deer from coming into the community. So before we try to chase them out or trap and hold, there’s going to be activities that take place to try and mitigate that in the first place,” Newell said.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015