Urban deer are becoming problem in many southern B.C. communities says a Kelowna city staff report.—Image: Dawn Tucker

Kelowna’s difficulty dealing with deer

City report says the province needs to do more to address the wildlife issue in B.C. communities

Oh dear. What can Kelowna do about urban dear?

That’s the question the city has been grappling with as it sees the number of complaints about urban deer increase over the last two years.

In a report to go to city council today, city staff say concerns have been increasing about urban deer in many southern B.C. communities, and Kelowna is no different.

Over the last two years there have been 61 complaints, compared to just 20 in the previous four years.

“Anecdotal evidence suggests that urban deer populations have increased in our region,” writes parks services manager Blair Stewart in the report.

“There are several possible reasons for the growth in population including the availability of food and increased safety and security.”

Stewart says most of the complaints have been about damage to landscaping and vegetation on private property. But there have been some complaints about aggressive deer as well.

While local governments have tried a number of approaches to deal with the issue, including no-feeding bylaws, public education and direct control, as well as controversial deer culls, nothing has seemed to work in the long-term.

“Ultimately the provincial government is responsible for wildlife in the province of British Columbia,” says the report.

“Funding announced in 2015/16 is a step in the right direction, but the province needs to do more to address urban deer concerns by municipalities throughout the province. Forest management activities, such as fuel management close to town, could help increase forage for deer in natural areas, making urban areas less attractive.”

It says the province is also starting to adjust hunting regulations and more should be done to add hunting opportunities within the Okanagan Valley to help “target” low elevation mule deer.

Stewart said the province has also suggested local governments join WildSafe BC, an education program designed to reduce human-wildlife conflict, which includes deer, bears and other wildlife.

The report suggests the best entity here to join WildSafe BC would be the regional district, as wildlife are not contained by municipal boundaries.

Council will discuss the matter at its regular meeting this afternoon.

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