Penticton needs hard data on mule deer issue: conservation group

Penticton city council needs more data on its mule deer issues before it makes decisions on what to do says conservation group.
Image Credit: (SHELLEY JORDAN /InfoTel News Ltd

By Shannon Quesnel

A B.C. conservation group wants Penticton to ask questions first and maybe shoot later - or not at all - when it comes to the community's mule deer issue.

An actual count of deer is needed, says Sally Kilburg, chair of the Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance. OSCA promotes environmental awareness in the south Okanagan and Similkameen. Another suggestion, she says, is find out what the people want.

Kilburg's suggestions are in response to Penticton city council considering a cull to deal with what it calls nuisance mule deer. The city has put such talks on hold until an Invermere court case about mule deer can be completed.
Mayor Dan Ashton said there are concerns of animal-vehicle collisions and aggressive deer coming into contact with pedestrians.

Council came up with a bylaw last year prohibiting the feeding of deer within the city but there is still a concern that hungry deer will be making their way through a very urban environment.

“The biggest problem with mule deer is they are taking up residency in the city where they don't belong,” said Ashton.

Kilburg made the point the OSCA has no position on whether to have a cull or not. OSCA's mission is environmental education and does not advocate for any one species.
More thought on the issue is needed, according to Kilburg.

“The question is always, is it a real issue? Is it a problem that (only) a few people have?” she says.
Kilburg understands wildlife issues can divide people. Some residents would happily shoot nuisance animals. Others would lay down their lives to protect them.

Urban wildlife management is a big deal for many communities in B.C. not just in Penticton. Sometimes the solutions are easy. Other times the problems are simple.
One idea is to remove the animal's food source. Kilburg says a bear-awareness program was successful. It got residents to keep their garbage locked up at night until trash pick-up day.

One town had a mobile home park and with a creek nearby that preceded it by thousands of years. It is a wildlife corridor, says Kilburg. A resident complained about the deer, but what the resident didn't realize is she planted cedar trees, the deer's favourite food.

“It's really no surprise that deer are going to be there.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Quesnel at or call 250-488-3065.


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