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Kimberley councillor responds to protesters

Carolyn Grant

Kimberley City Councillor Darryl Oakley says that he appreciates the presence of anti-cull protesters at last week's Council meeting, and understands their concerns, but he does have a couple of comments on points made by the BC Deer Protection Society.

Council voted last week for a cull of up to 30 deer — 15 from the Chapman Camp/Blarchmont area and 15 from Marysville.

"They are upset about the killing of animals and I do understand that," Oakley said. "But we can't just do nothing, and right now there aren't any other options.

"The BCSPCA says translocating is too stressful on deer and most will not survive. There is a vaccine, SpeyVac, which is allowed in the U.S. but not Canada. It's an experimental vaccine that stops reproduction in does for about five years. It would be nice to have that option, but we don't. We had an aversive conditioning experiment that I think could be effective in parts of Kimberley, especially Marysville, but the government doesn't allow it.

"So we really have very few options."

Oakley says that when the promised provincial task force is struck through the UBCM that will hopefully move some things along, but until then the City has to operate on the recommendations Council accepted from the Managing for the Future document from the Deer Committee.

Oakley says he had a provincial wildlife biologist run some numbers through the software designed for population estimates.

"Here's what we got. In 2010, We had 204 deer in Kimberley. In 2011 that was up to 242. Then we culled 99 deer in 2011. But the numbers show that if we hadn't culled, there would have been 287 deer in 2012, 341 in 2013 and heading into 2014, there would be 404 deer. We were getting reports of serious incidents at 240 deer, how many would we have at 404?"

In addition, Oakley says, the population would have eventually reached a crisis point and many more deer would have to be culled.

"The Managing for the Future document says Kimberley's deer population is manageable at 100 to 125 deer. So if we had done nothing and let it grow to over 400 deer, we would be looking at culling 284 deer. If we get through this cull, 129 deer will have been taken out.

"Because we acted pro-actively early on, we didn't have to kill as many deer.

"Now that the population is at that lower number, we have to keep it there. If we can do it with non-lethal means, that would be great."

There were other points made by the protesters that Oakley took issue with. To their insistence that the biologist working with the committee should be an ungulate specialist:

"Irene (Teske, the provincial wildlife biologist on the Urban Deer Committee) is a wildlife biologist who is hugely respected in the community, region and province. She has a vast wealth of information and she has the entire Ministry from which to access any information we ask for. She is also a citizen of Kimberley. She lives here. She is an integral part of the Committee and we appreciate her participation."

The recent counts in November, put the average number of deer in Kimberley this year at 125.

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